The Football League Cup, commonly known as the League Cup or by a name referring to the current sponsor, is an English association football competition. Like the FA Cup, it is played on a knockout (single elimination) basis. Unlike the FA Cup, where 758 teams entered in 2012–13, only 92 clubs can enter the League Cup – the 20 Premier League clubs, and the 72 clubs of the Football League, which organises the competition. Also unlike the FA Cup, the semi-finals are played over two legs. The winners qualify for the UEFA Europa League, unless they have qualified for the Champions League through their league position, in which case the Europa League berth goes to the highest-placed team from the Premier League not already qualified for Europe. Liverpool are the current holders.
Although the League Cup is one of the three major domestic trophies attainable by English league teams, it is perceived by some larger clubs as a lower priority than the league championship, UEFA Champions League, and the FA Cup. League Cup winners receive £100,000 prize money (awarded by the Football League) with the runners up receiving £50,000, considered relatively worthless to top flight teams, compared to the £2 million prize money of the FA Cup, which is in turn eclipsed by the Premier League's television money awarded on final league position as well as participation in the Champions League.
Some clubs have made a point of fielding a weaker side in the competition, making the opportunity for giant-killing of the larger clubs more likely. Many of the top English sides, Arsenal and Manchester United in particular, have used the competition to give young players valuable big-game experience. Recently, in response to Arsène Wenger's claim that a League Cup win would not end his trophy drought, Alex Ferguson described the trophy as "a pot worth winning". Since that nadir, the League Cup has recovered somewhat, embracing the 'youth' football ethic, and maintaining its niche as an early season trophy.
The women's game has its own League Cup, which is open to the 36 women's clubs in the three divisions of the FA Women's Premier League, although the women's competition is governed by the FA and not the Football League.
Famous quotes containing the words football, league and/or cup:
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—David Storey (b. 1933)
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—Amelia E. Barr (18311919)