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EFL Cup: Dates, schedule & history

The EFL Cup is regarded as the lesser of the two domestic cup competitions in England behind the FA Cup, but it's still a much-coveted trophy.

For much of the last decade, the EFL Cup has been won by one of the Premier League big boys, but it still represents a chance for smaller clubs in the lower leagues to compete for glory.

Smaller clubs such as Birmingham City and Swansea City have lifted the trophy in recent times, while Cardiff City, Bradford City and Sunderland are among the clubs to have reached the final in the past decade since the Blues upset Arsenal in 2011.

With a Europa League place on offer to the winner, the EFL Cup retains plenty of prestige, even if a lot of the Premier League clubs opt to rotate their squads for the early rounds, often giving youngsters and fringe players the chance to impress.

WhatEFL Cup
WhereEngland and Wales
WhenAugust to February/March
How to watchSky Sports, ITV (highlights)

When does the EFL Cup take place?

Traditionally, the competition's early rounds take place from August and it builds up throughout the autumn and winter and into the New Year.

The final usually takes place at Wembley on the final Sunday of February, but has also been held on the first Sunday in March.

What is the format of the EFL Cup?

All 92 clubs in the Premier League and the three divisions of the English Football League enter the competition each year.

In the first round, 22 of the 24 Championship teams take part alongside all League One and League Two clubs.

For the following round, the two remaining Championship clubs who finished 18th and 19th in the previous Premier League season, and the top-flight sides not involved in European competition, all join.

The third round sees the seven Premier League clubs playing European football that season enters the fray.

Matches in all rounds are single-legged, except for the semi-finals, which are played over two legs at the respective teams' home stadiums.

The final was a two-legged affair from 1961 to 1966 but has been a single game ever since, with the most recent edition ending in a 2-0 win for Manchester United against Newcastle on 26th February 2023.

Where does the EFL Cup take place?

The cup takes place throughout England and Wales, with the final usually held at Wembley Stadium on either the final Sunday in February or the first in March.

Hillsborough, Old Trafford, Villa Park and Maine Road have all previously hosted the final when it has gone to a replay, while Cardiff’s Millenium/Principality Stadium was the venue while Wembley was being rebuilt between 2001 and 2007.

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Can I watch the EFL Cup?

Yes. Sky Sports broadcasts 15 matches in the competition live per season, while ITV currently airs highlights throughout the rounds.

When did the EFL Cup first take place?

The EFL Cup was first held in 1960/61 as the Football League Cup after being implemented by then Football League Secretary Alan Hardaker. It has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since.

Aston Villa were the first-ever winners in 1961, beating Rotherham United 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.

Who has won the EFL Cup on the most occasions?

Liverpool are the record winners of the competition, winning the tournament nine times and most recently in 2021/22 when they beat Chelsea on penalties after the final had finished goalless after extra-time.

Manchester City - who won the cup four times in succession between 2018 and 2021 - have lifted the trophy eight times, while United have now won it on six occasions and Aston Villa and Chelsea have both been victorious in the competition five times.

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