This post provides the key differences between the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup. In English football, there are a bunch of cup competitions for clubs, kind of like different leagues or tournaments.
But the major ones that everyone talks about are the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. However, these two cups have lots of amazing difference that distinguishes them, and one of the key differences is that:
If a team wins the FA Cup, they get a place to play in the UEFA Europa League. And if they win the EFL Cup, they can play in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
So, these cups aren’t just about bragging rights; they can also lead to some exciting international matches. However, In this post, you will learn more about the differences between the EFL and the FA Cup.
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Let’s get to it.
Overview Of The EFL Cup
The EFL Cup or the League Cup is an annual knockout soccer competition in England that’s been going on since 1960. It’s a football competition where clubs from the top four levels of English football get to duke it out.
That’s a total of 92 clubs, including the big guns from the Premier League and teams from the English Football League’s three divisions (Championship, League One, and League Two).
The idea of this tournament was to keep English football exciting because European football was getting pretty popular. Plus, it was a way for the English Football League to flex its muscles against the FA (Football Association).
This tournament has seven rounds, with most games being a one-legged clash, except for the semi-finals. The grand finale happens at Wembley Stadium, and that’s the only time the competition takes place on a weekend.
However, the winner gets their hands on the EFL Cup trophy, and there have been three different designs over the years. The winner also earned a ticket to European football precisely, the UEFA Europa Conference League.
If the winner has already qualified for Europe through other means, the spot goes to the next best Premier League team. Also, the winners get £100,000, and the runners-up pocket £50,000.
Well, not so much when you compare it to the whopping £2 million that the FA Cup winners earn, not to even talk of the Premier League.
One thing I have noticed over the years is that some clubs don’t always put their A-team in this cup, which makes it exciting for the underdogs.
Teams like Arsenal and Manchester United often give their young players a chance to Impress. Because of that, some fans have cheekily nicknamed it the “Mickey Mouse Cup.”
But don’t be fooled, In 2010, the legendary Alex Ferguson said this cup is “a pot worth winning.” And lately, it’s been gaining more respect because the big dogs from the Premier League have been dominating it again.
Teams like Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea have snatched up 18 trophies between them from 2001 to 2023.
Overview Of The FA Cup
The FA Cup stands for the Football Association Challenge Cup but is more commonly known as the FA Cup. This competition is like the granddaddy of all football tournaments in England and holds the title of being the oldest national football competition worldwide.
It’s been kicking since the 1871-72 season. The FA Cup is the brainchild of The Football Association, and they’ve been running the tournament since day one.
In recent years, it’s even been called The Emirates FA Cup, due to its headline sponsor, Emirates. There’s also a Women’s FA Cup that’s been running since 1970.
The competition is open to a wide range of clubs, all the way down to Level 9 of the English football league system. And if there are any no-shows from higher levels, Level 10 clubs step up to the scale.
Over the years, the number of clubs entering the FA Cup has fluctuated. In the 2004-05 season, 660 teams entered, breaking a long-standing record.
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This number continued to rise, reaching 762 entrants in 2009-10.
However, changes in club formations and dissolutions led to varying entry numbers, and since 2021-22, the FA has stabilized the entry process, resulting in a consistent number of participants from one year to the next.
The tournament unfolds in 12-round matches, culminating in the semi-finals and, of course, the final. Unlike some competitions, there are no seeds here, but a clever system of byes ensures that big teams don’t jump in until later rounds.
Depending on when a team enters, they can face anywhere from six to fourteen games to lift the trophy.
The first six rounds are called the Qualifying Competition, and this is where clubs from levels 5 to 10 of the English football system, often referred to as non-league teams, battle it out.
Thirty-two of these underdogs move on to the Competition Proper, where they meet the first of 48 professional teams from Leagues One and Two.
Then the big guns from the Premier League and the Championship join the battle in the third round. However, one of the most exciting aspects of the FA Cup is the potential for “giant-killing.”
It’s when smaller, lower-tier teams pull off unexpected victories against the big boys. This kind of story always grabs the headlines and captures fans’ hearts.
So, the FA Cup winners get their hands on the iconic FA Cup trophy, which has seen two different designs and five actual cups. The most recent design is a replica from 2014, based on the second design introduced in 1911.
But the sweetest reward is a ticket to the UEFA Europa League and a chance to participate in the upcoming FA Community Shield.
When it comes to FA Cup history, Arsenal takes the cake with fourteen titles, most recently in 2020. And the competition’s most successful manager is Arsène Wenger, who clinched seven FA Cup finals with the team.
The current champions, though, are Manchester City, who defeated Manchester United in the 2023 final. Furthermore, clubs in the top four levels of English football are automatic qualifiers.
Clubs from Levels 5 to 9 (non-league football) can also participate, provided they’re involved in either the FA Trophy or FA Vase competitions during the current season.
All participating clubs must have a stadium that meets competition standards, and The FA has the final say in accepting applications.
In the past, Level 10 clubs had a more prominent role in early qualifying rounds, but recent changes in the National League System have shifted the landscape.
While it’s rare for top clubs to skip the competition, it has happened in exceptional cases. Manchester United, for instance, didn’t defend their title in 1999-2000 because they were competing in the inaugural Club World Championship.
This decision stirred controversy, as it impacted the tournament’s prestige. Also, Welsh clubs in English leagues are eligible to participate, with Cardiff City being the only non-English team to win the FA Cup, back in 1927.
Other teams from Wales, Ireland, and Scotland used to take part in the competition, but that changed over time. Clubs affiliated with “offshore” associations can also participate, with special considerations.
The Key Differences Between The EFL Cup And The FA Cup
Here are the four key differences Between The EFL Cup And The FA Cup:
1. Club Lineup:
- EFL Cup: The EFL Cup involves clubs from the top four levels of English football, totaling 92 teams. This includes Premier League giants and teams from the English Football League’s three divisions: Championship, League One, and League Two.
- FA Cup: The FA Cup is open to a broader range of clubs, extending down to Level 9 of the English football league system. In case the top clubs don’t participate, Level 10 teams can step in.
2. Game Format:
- EFL Cup: This tournament consists of seven rounds, with most games being one-legged clashes, except for the semi-finals. The final encounter takes place at Wembley Stadium, and it’s the only match in the competition that happens on a weekend.
- FA Cup: The FA Cup unfolds in 12 rounds of matches, culminating in the semi-finals and the final. Unlike some other competitions, there are no seeded teams, but a system of byes ensures that big teams join the action later, depending on when they enter. This can lead to anywhere from six to fourteen games to win the trophy.
- EFL Cup: While gaining respect in recent years, the EFL Cup is of lower prominence compared to other trophies like the Premier League or the FA Cup. Clubs in the top four levels of English football are eligible to participate.
- FA Cup: The FA Cup is the oldest national football competition In the world, and eligibility is more inclusive, extending down to Level 9 clubs, Welsh clubs, and even those affiliated with “offshore” associations.
- EFL Cup: The winner of the EFL Cup receives the EFL Cup trophy, and also earns a ticket to European football, specifically the UEFA Europa Conference League. If the winner has already qualified for Europe through other means, the spot goes to the next best Premier League team. The prize money for winners is £100,000, with runners-up pocketing £50,000.
- FA Cup: FA Cup winners get the iconic FA Cup trophy, plus £2 million, a ticket to the UEFA Europa League, and participation in the FA Community Shield.
Kenneth is a an avid soccer follower, fan and writer. He is a consistent follower of the sport and is a fan of Chelsea FC.