Lets Lose The Carling Cup and make an Anglo-Scottish CupBy: Rob | February 27th, 2009
Sunday, to the indifference of an entire nation, comes the second (after the equally meaningful chairty/community shield) chance to win silverware this season. Lets be honest, its absolutely meaningless (unless you’re playing Football Manager!) The winner gets a UEFA Cup spot (or as it will be next season the Europa League) but as Manchester United will almost certainly qualify for the Champions League instead, Spurs only have to turn up at Wembley, and there you go, they’ve qualified.
(Edit – Perhaps not, see the comments)
So we have defending champs Spurs who beat Chelsea last season, and a team chasing the quintiple (if you chose to include the meaningful World Club Cup) and yet, it still doesn’t feel like a massive game as say, the FA Cup final.
The thing is, The FA Cup is great. It gives teams from every level the chance to have a moment in the sun. The League Cup, currently the Carling Cup, is sort of the same, but only goes down as far as League Two.
Now as a supporter of a League One club who has fond memories of watching big cup upsets, I wouldn’t say get rid of the cup completely. But I would say something needs to be done to stop it being a poor mans version of the FA Cup, which frankly, is exactly what it is.
Every now and then when there is nothing else to talk about the press talk about Rangers and Celtic leaving the SPL and joining the EPL. While I think this would be a bit rubbish, it would be interesting to see how the Prem teams got on against the Scottish giants.
So, as I’ve said before, why not merge the League Cup with the Scottish League Cup, and then have a competition which is at least a little bit different from the FA Cup.
It could go one of two ways – they could take note from the lower-league-only LDV Vans Trophy, and have a “English” and a “Scottish” section, meaning it stays much like the current league cup, untill the final, in which you’d be left with the English Cup Champions, and the Scottish Cup Champions playing one another – perhaps over two legs, one in each nation.
The otehr option going down this route, if Scotland was not interested, is to divide all the teams by local areas, and then at least you get loads of derbies in to make it something teams really want to win. And in some cases big rivals (Blackburn and Burnley say) aren’t in the same league, so would at least get to play each other once a year.
Or you could just go hell-for-leather, and stick all the English and Scottish league teams in a hat and see who gets who. This would be a bit more exciting – the chance to see teams you never do get to see at your local ground – but would probably start complaints when Ayr has to play away at Portsmouth.
I’m pretty sure it would be benificial to the clubs to lobby for this. More people would surely watch this weekend’s final if it was Celtic or Rangers taking on Man United, or whoever.
Also, the two nations still aren’t keen on each other (my Scottish friends and I have good banter about this still), but they never get to play each other – and England have been excluded from the “Celtic Cup” meaning unless fate draws us together, in European Championships or whatever, we’re unlikely to. So this new league cup format would surely give people a bit to get behind. After ten years you’d be looking at it thinking “I hope the English team wins, we’ve only won four of these things” or whatever.
Come on, FA and SFA. We know you read The Offside. Get it done! The campaign starts here.