Over the last few years, many football supporters have begun to question the importance of the League Cup. Should it stay? Should it go? A recent article on The Telegraph allowed Accrington Stanley Owner Andy Holt to express his views.
Stanley are a team with plenty of history. From being dissolved in 1966 to their ressurection and adventure back to the Football League since 1968.
Many supporters see the EFL Cup as a huge waste of time, an competition that top-flight teams use to show their young, developing players but Accrington Stanley Owner Holt has three main reasons why the EFL Cup should remain.
1. Financial incentive
As a small League Two side, who is situated in the centre of a town which only has a population of 49,600, they find it difficult to keep themselves afloat and financially capable of staying afloat.
But Holt sees the EFL Cup as a financial incentive for his players to perform well and reach the latter stages of the competition. Whilst the prize money is extremely minimal – with just a total of £22,000 being on offer for winning all the way to the third round – the largest amount of money comes from the gate receipts.
Each finalist of the competition earns 45% of the Wembley final ticket money. Therefore, when Bradford City shocked the nation by reaching the final in 2013, the Bantams made around £1million just from tickets.
Another incentive is that if they reach the final and are pitted against the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham or either of the Manchester clubs, then you could get a place in the Europa League even without winning the final – due to the winners potentially qualifying through the league system.
2. Memories that last forever
A second point that Holt mentions is that a good cup run can produce nights out that live long in the memories of a fan.
Take Bradford City for example. A side that finished just two points ahead of Chesterfield to steal the final play-off spot, but somehow reached the play-off final where they beat Northampton Town 3-0 at Wembley. However that was not the Bantams’ only Wembley visit that season. After a stunning run in the Cup, which saw Wigan Athletic and Arsenal, a semi final victory on-aggregate over Premier League side Aston Villa sent the West Yorkshire side’s supporters into delirium with a trip to Wembley ahead.
For Accrington Stanley it would be nights such as the victory over Burnley thanks to a 120th-minute goal. However following in quick-succession would most likely be their trip to the London Stadium where their Cup run ended as Dimitri Payet dispatched a 96th minute free-kick.
3. Communal effect
A trip to Wembley will bring the community together, but any trip in the EFL Cup can do so, also. Cup runs lift the club, the town and all the people who are linked to the club.
When Bradford City had their spectacular run in the Cup they amassed a home crowd of 50,394 watched their three home games in the lead up to Wembley. The then League Two side took over 30,000 to then watch as City were defeated 5-0 by Premier League side Swansea City.
Either way though, the EFL Cup should be one that all clubs should take seriously. It does have financial boosts, it does bring together communities and it does create memories, but most of all it’s another competition which your club has the potential to win – so why not support the EFL Cup?