By The Football League
The Capital One Cup is The Football League’s showpiece cup competition and is one of the three major honours of the domestic football season.
Beginning each August, it features all 92 clubs from The Football League and Premier League in a straight knockout format across seven rounds, with the semi-finals being played over two legs. Premier League clubs enter the competition in Round Two with clubs that have qualified for the Champions League or UEFA Europa League joining in Round Three. The competition culminates in a final at Wembley Stadium each February, with the winner qualifying for the subsequent season’s UEFA Europa League.
More than a million people watch matches in the Capital One Cup every season and many more watch at home on television. In the UK, Capital One Cup matches are broadcast on Sky Sports with two matches from each round being shown live as well as both legs of each semi-final and the final. Highlights from all rounds are shown on BBC Sport’s ‘The League Cup Show’.
The competition was the brainchild of former Football League secretary Alan Hardaker and stemmed from the ‘Pattern for Football’ document which proposed a new structure for the domestic game. Clubs rejected Hardaker’s suggestion of having 5 divisions of 20 clubs but kept the additional cup competition that was initially intended to compensate them for playing fewer league matches. The advent of floodlights giving them the opportunity to play more matches in midweek.
To read a full history of the competition click here.
Since its inception in 1960/61 the competition has earned itself a reputation for thrilling floodlit cup football with many memorable moments and shock results. In more recent seasons it has garnered a reputation for being the competition in which the young stars of the future make their bow in professional football.
This includes Cesc Fabregas who made his professional debut in the competition against Rotherham United to become Arsenal’s youngest ever player. Similarly, future England stars John Terry, Jermaine Defoe and David Beckham all made their first professional appearances in the League Cup.
Wayne Rooney launched his scoring career in it too, bagging his first ever goal in professional football, for Everton against Wrexham in October 2002. His England team mate, Theo Walcott marked his debut goal for Arsenal in the 2007 Final against Chelsea.
In 1981 the competition also broke new ground by becoming the first competition to bear the name of a sponsor following a groundbreaking deal with the National Dairy Council. It became known as the Capital One Cup in June 2012 after leading UK credit card company Capital One signed a four-year sponsorship deal with The Football League.
To find out more about Capital One click here
The most successful club in the history of the Capital One Cup are Liverpool who have won the competition on 8 occasions, including most recently in February 2011. The second most successful club is Aston Villa with 5 wins.
A full list of previous finals can be read here and a list of previous winners can be found here.