It’s an argument that’s been thrashed out many times over the years, ever since the League Cup’s introduction in 1960.
Do we really need the League Cup, the Milk Cup, the Littlewoods Cup, the Rumbelows Cup, the Coca Cola Cup, the Worthington Cup, the Carling Cup, or the Capital One Cup?
We don’t of course. But is there any point in persisting with it?
Arguments in favour:
- It’s a small sop and a few quid from the Premier League to the lesser lights in the Football League, who can generate a decent gate from a visiting power in the early rounds.
- It gives those Premier League giants an opportunity to stretch the legs of that vast squad they’ve assembled, allowing youngsters whose self-worth is dwindling to nil to earn their substantial crust for once.
- Capital One football isn’t actually all that bad. In fact, it can throw up some of the most memorably ridiculous matches of them all. Think Reading 5 Arsenal 7 . This may happen chiefly because nobody involved is really all that terribly invested in the result.
- It’s actually an interesting psychological study to see which Premier League ‘giants’ deign to take the competition seriously. It’s often the best way of evaluating how secure a manager feels his position is. (Unlucky Kenny, you were right to feel insecure, as it turns out)
- It’s nothing but a minor sop and barely significant financial hush-money to the lesser lights in the Football League. The prize money is a joke – £100,000 for the winners, contributed by the Football League. Shouldn’t the cash-rich Premier League kick in at least a million for the highest place team outside the top flight?
- It gives the Premier League giants a false and easy way of integrating more of their vast stockpile of players, which they don’t need anyway. It’s an easy sop to fans, who have given up any hope of seeing a local lad again in the first team, to roll out some of the youths in a competition you don’t care about. Be honest about it and call it a reserve team cup.
- Sure, matches can be exciting, but there’s a false feel to it. You see some runaway victories, because sides invariably throw in the towel when they go two down. Or, conversely, they go at it hell-for-leather in a you-score-we-score free-for-all. If teams are approaching matches differently than usual, it tells you there is something amiss with the competition. (See Confederations Cup).
- It might be interesting to watch Mourinho spot at easy passage to a first trophy back at Chelsea, just to get that box ticked as soon as possible. But it’s a cheap trophy, and everyone knows it doesn’t really count (Just ask Kenny). When Arsenal were enduring their million-year-trophy drought, would it really have made any difference to the position of the club if they had won that final with Birmingham rather than cock things up spectacularly in the final minute?
5. Moments of high comedy. That settles it, the Capital One Cup stays.