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The tournament is played over seven rounds, with single leg ties throughout, except the semi-finals. The final is held at Wembley Stadium ; it is the only tie in the competition played at a neutral venue and on a weekend Sunday.
Entrants are seeded in the early rounds, and a system of byes based on league level ensures higher ranked teams enter in later rounds, and to defer the entry of teams still involved in Europe.
Winners receive the EFL Cup,  of which there have been three designs, the current one also being the original. Winners also qualify for European football, receiving a place in the UEFA Europa League ; should the winner also qualify for Europe through other means at the end of the season, this place is transferred to the highest-placed Premier League team not already qualified for European competition.
The current holders are Manchester City , who beat Arsenal 3—0 in the final to win their fifth League Cup. Although the League Cup is one of the four domestic trophies attainable by English league teams, it is perceived as being of lower prestige than the league championship or the FA Cup;  the fourth domestic trophy, the Community Shield, is a one-match event.
Some clubs have repeatedly fielded a weaker side in the competition, making the opportunity for giant-killing of the larger clubs more likely.
Many teams in the Premier League , Arsenal and Manchester United in particular, have used the competition to give young players valuable big-game experience.
The original idea for a League Cup came from Stanley Rous who saw the competition as a consolation for clubs who had already been knocked out of the FA Cup.
Hardaker initially proposed the competition as a way for the clubs to make up on lost revenue, due to a reduction in matches played, for when the league was to be re-organised.
The re-organisation of the league was not immediately forthcoming; however, the cup competition was introduced regardless.
The trophy was paid for personally by Football League President Joe Richards, who was proud of the competition and he had his own name engraved on it.
Hardaker felt that the Football League needed to adapt to the times, as the English game was losing prestige. He felt that the Football League should take the lead in revitalising football in the nation: I hope the Press will not immediately assume that the League is going to fall out with the F.
The League Cup competition was established at a time when match day attendances were dwindling. The league had lost one million spectators compared to the previous season.
It was established at a time when tensions between the Football League and the Football Association were high. The biggest disagreement was about how revenue was shared between the clubs.
During the late s, the majority of senior English clubs equipped their grounds with floodlights. This opened up the opportunity to exploit weekday evenings throughout the winter.
The League Cup was introduced in the —61 season specifically as a mid-week floodlit tournament, to replace the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup.
The League Cup was criticised by the better-endowed clubs. The Times published on 30 May Where men like Count Bernabeu with his wider horizons, think in terms of a European League for the future in which a lead could surely now be given jointly by our leaders, the Football League propose next season to implement their useless Football League Cup to be played in midweek.
It gets the players, the clubs and the public nowhere. Aston Villa were the inaugural winners in —61 , defeating Rotherham United 3—2 in the final over two legs.
He was keen for the league to re-establish itself: Richards died in The first League Cup was won in —61 by Aston Villa who, at the time, held the overall record for major trophies won in England.
One of them, Norwich City , had yet to even play in the First Division, while their opponents Rochdale had played no higher than the Third Division.
As a result of the negotiating tactics, UEFA provided the League Cup winner with a place in the European competitions, providing the team was in the first division.
Tottenham Hotspur were the first team to qualify for Europe by virtue of winning the competition. Although Leeds United had won the competition before Tottenham, Leeds qualified for Europe based on league position.
Everton chose not to compete in —71 so that they could concentrate their efforts on the European Cup. Entry was made compulsory for all Football League teams the following year.
Liverpool have won the cup on the most occasions with eight victories, including winning their four League Cups in successive years in the early s.
They completed two trebles of trophy wins, in —84 and —01 , winning the League Cup in both of these years. English clubs lost their place in European competitions for an indefinite period in as a result of the Heysel disaster , where Liverpool fans had taken part in a riot at the European Cup final, resulting in the death of 39 spectators.
Even when the ban was lifted in , League Cup winners did not participate in European competitions for two more years, when Manchester United won the trophy and qualified for the UEFA Cup anyway, as they had finished second in the league.
It has retained its Europa League berth, however, leaving England the only UEFA member aside from France to offer a European berth to the winners of their second cup competitions.
This has allowed the League Cup to retain popularity, especially with fans of clubs for whom success in cup competitions offers their only realistic chance of qualifying for Europe.
Giant killings are less well remembered in the League Cup than the FA Cup due to the absence of non-league sides and the fact that many big clubs have fielded very under-strength sides when knocked out.
In —96 , Manchester United were beaten 3—0 at home by York City in the second round, first leg; United could only win 3—1 in the second leg and went out 4—3 on aggregate York went on to repeat the achievement against Everton the following year.
Two years later in —69 , Third Division side Swindon Town beat Arsenal after extra time in the final to win the trophy.
Manchester United have also been knocked out by Southend United and Coventry City in —07 and —08 respectively: In —02, holders Liverpool were defeated 2—1 at home by Grimsby Town , then humbled again by Northampton Town in September Grimsby recorded another giant killing in by knocking out Tottenham Hotspur.
In the —13 competition, League Two fourth tier side Bradford City knocked out Premier League sides Wigan and Arsenal en route to a semi-final disposal of another top tier side, Aston Villa, 4—3 on aggregate, to reach the final, becoming the lowest-ranked team to do so since Rochdale in — Swansea City , in their centenary year, became the first team from outside England to win the League Cup on 24 February , when they beat Bradford City 5—0 to win their first major English trophy.
Former League club and now defunct Scarborough defeated Chelsea 4—3 on aggregate in October , while a Division 4 club.
In —93 , Scarborough then defeated Coventry City then a top-tier side 3—2 on aggregate, before ultimately going out of the competition, narrowly, 1—0, against Arsenal.
The League Cup is open to all 92 members of the Premier League and English Football League and is divided into seven rounds, organised so that 32 teams remain by the third round with the exception of the —62 competition.
Matches in all rounds are single-legged, except for the semi-finals, which have been two-legged since the competition began.
Until —75 , two-legged ties that remained level after extra time in the second leg would be replayed; in that time, three ties reached a third replay.
For the first six seasons of the Football League Cup, the final was played over two legs, with each leg being played at the home ground of each finalist.
Since , the final has been played as a single match at Wembley Stadium , although the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was used between and , following the demolition of the old Wembley.
Between and , finals that finished level after extra time were replayed at an alternative venue until a winner was decided.
Since , finals that have finished level after extra time have been decided by penalty shoot-out. Thereafter it has been played in late February or early March.
From to the present except in —17 , the League Cup has attracted title sponsorship, which meant, unlike its older sibling the FA Cup , the League Cup was named after its sponsor , giving it the following names:.
The winners receive the EFL Cup,  of which there have been three designs — the current one also being the original, a three-handled Georgian-style urn with a separate plinth added later.
In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, 15 matches will be broadcast live by Sky Sports through  with highlights from the several matches on Quest through