The FA Cup and the Carabao Cup are two of the oldest and most prestigious domestic cup competitions in England. Both cups have different formats, prize guarantees, and prize money. How is it different? Let’s check it out!
The FA Cup is the oldest domestic competition in England. Starting in 1871, it is the oldest domestic cup competition in the world. There is also a Women’s FA Cup currently that started in 1970. Emirates is the current headline sponsor for the FA Cup.
The semi-final of the competition used to take place at neutral venues, but after rebuilding Wembley Stadium, the semifinals started taking place there. The final of the competition takes place in Wembley Stadium.
Eligibility and Teams
736 teams in divisions as low as level 9 can take part in the FA Cup. The teams need to meet the criteria set by the FA, and they have the power to reject applications of the teams.
The levels are self-explanatory where:
- Level 1: Premier League teams
- Level 2: Championship teams
- Level 3: League One team
- Level 4: League Two teams
- Level 5-9: Non-league teams
The Non-League teams will also be required to partake in the FA Trophy as it is one of the criteria that needs to be met. The level 1-5 teams are automatically eligible for the FA Cup. Non-League teams also have to meet the stadium suitability criteria of the FA to take part in the competition.
Format and Schedule
The FA Cup is a knock-out tournament where the teams that lose the tie get knocked out of the competition. The winners progress to the next round.
The FA Cup has 14 rounds in total, including the final, which takes place at Wembley Stadium.
If we talk about the schedule, the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup begin in August, and teams from as low as level 10 are part of this.
The level 10 teams will only be asked to participate in the qualifying if there is a vacancy due to some other higher-level clubs’ unavailability.
Till October, Clubs from level 10 to level 5 take part in the qualifying rounds, and with each round, a team gets knocked out from the tie. Qualifying is completed by the end of October.
Main FA Cup
The main FA Cup competition – the competition proper starts in November. The EFL clubs from the 3rd and 4th levels are involved in the first round proper. Hence 48 new entries are added to the competition.
The second round begins in December, and no new teams are added.
There are replays in FA Cup till the 4th round, where if the away team draws their ties, then they will face their opponents on their home ground. If the tie still ends in a draw in the return fixture, then extra time is played and if the game again ends in a draw, then penalties decide the fate.
From the 5th round, there are no replays. So if the tie results in a draw, then 30mins of extra time takes place, and if there is still no result after the extra time, then penalties decide the outcome of the match.
In the third round of the competition, the Premier League and Championship clubs, level 1 and level 2 clubs are added into the mix. After this round, there are no new teams added to the competition.
With each round, teams start getting eliminated, with the final taking place in May.
The FA Cup Trophy
The iconic FA Cup trophy was designed and made by Fattorini and Sons from the Bradford area. This trophy was designed in 1911 and was the third trophy. Surprisingly, the original trophy was stolen in 1895, and the second one ran its course by 1911. A new trophy was ordered to be built, and to date, we see the same design in use.
The 1911 commissioned trophy was retired in 1992, and a replica was ordered, which only ran for 22 years as that trophy had to be retired as well because it developed lots of bumps. The current trophy in use is designed by Thomas Lyte.
The FA Cup weighs in at 13.61 lbs or 6.3 kg, as much as the original one, and stands at 61.5cm in height.
Winners and Record Holders
Coming to the record holders in the FA Cup:
- Arsenal has won the most number of FA Cup trophies with 14 wins. The Gunners won their last FA Cup trophy in the year 2020.
- Arsenal and Manchester United hold the most number of appearances in the FA Cup final at 21 appearances each.
- Chelsea made the FA Cup finals on 3 back-to-back occasions between 2020-2022; they lost all three finals, which is a record for most consecutive losses.
- Manchester United holds the record for most finals lost, with nine losses in FA Cup finals.
- Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur share the record for most finals appearances without losing. Both the club hold the streak with 7 wins.
- Ashley Cole is the most decorated FA Cup winner ever. Cole has won the FA Cup competition a record 7 times, more than anybody else.
- Arsene Wenger is the most decorated manager of all time in FA Cup history. The Frenchmen have won the FA Cup 7 times, all with Arsenal.
The team that wins the FA Cup earns £2m in prize money, while the losing finalist receives a £1m windfall.
Every round has prize money for teams competing in it. It does not matter if a team wins or loses. As long as a team makes it into the next round, they receive certain prize money for reaching that round.
Below is a table explaining the round and prize money each team receives on reaching those rounds.
|Rounds||No. of Teams||Prize Money(£)|
|Extra Preliminary Round Winners||208||1,125|
|Extra Preliminary Round Losers||208||375|
|Preliminary Round Winners||136||1,444|
|Preliminary Round Losers||136||481|
|First-Round Qualifying Winners||112||2,250|
|First-Round Qualifying Losers||112||750|
|Second-Round Qualifying Winners||80||3,375|
|Second-Round Qualifying Losers||80||1,125|
|Third-Round Qualifying Winners||40||5,625|
|Third-Round Qualifying Losers||40||1,875|
|Fourth-Round Qualifying Winners||32||9,375|
|Fourth-Round Qualifying Losers||32||3,125|
|First-Round Proper Winners||40||41,000|
|Second-Round Proper Winners||20||67,000|
|Third-Round Proper Winners||32||105,000|
|Fourth-Round Proper Winners||16||120,000|
|Fifth-Round Proper Winners||8||225,000|
Apart from the trophy and prize money, the winning team gains a direct entry to next year’s Europa League competition.
The winners get a direct spot in the group stages of the Europa League. Moreover, the winners also face the Premier League winners in next year’s curtain opener to the season in the Community Shield match in August.
The Carabao Cup is the second-oldest domestic competition in England. The League Cup changes its name after every sponsorship deal.
Carabao is the current sponsor of the cup competition hence the name Carabao Cup. Some of the previous sponsors include Coca-Cola, Capital One, Worthington, Rumbelows, Carling, and Littlewoods.
The Carabao Cup, or the EFL Cup, first took place in 1960. Aston Villa were the inaugural winners of the cup competition. Manchester United are the current holders of the Carabao Cup.
Eligibility and Teams
Unlike FA Cup, non-league teams are not involved, and only the 92 EFL teams from level 1 to level 4 are involved. Since there are none of the non-league teams involved, there are fewer upsets in this competition.
Of course, a League 2 team can knock a team from higher leagues out, but there is less romanticism about it.
The teams involved from each league are the:
- 20 Premier League teams
- 24 Championship teams
- 24 League One teams
- 24 League Two teams
The Carabao Cup starts in August, the same as the FA Cup, but the competition ends around February each year. Fewer matches = Early final.
The participation of the Premier League clubs depends upon their qualification for European competitions.
The clubs that are involved in the Champions League, European League, and Conference League enter the competition in Round Three, while those Premier League clubs not involved in any European competitions enter the cup in Round Two.
Format and Schedule
The Carabao Cup is a knock-out tournament. The knock-out system means winners progress to the next round, and losers exit the competition.
Number of rounds in the EFL Cup vs the FA Cup
There are only 7 rounds in the EFL Cup as compared to 14 rounds in the FA Cup.
The League Cup is a single-round knockout competition right until the semifinal.
When 4 teams reach the semis of the competition then, they face off against each other in 2 two-legged ties, home and away.
There are no away goal rules in this competition, so if the tie remains in the balance after normal time, the tie goes straight to penalties. Extra time was scraped off from the competition in 2018/19.
Every round, the tie goes to penalties if the game ends in a draw in normal time.
The final is a single-game affair that takes place at Wembley. If the tie ends in a draw in normal time, then there is a provision for extra time in the final, and if the tie is still not decided by the end of extra time, then penalties shall determine the outcome.
The Carabao Cup Trophy
The EFL Cup was designed and manufactured by Mappin & Webb, the original design of the trophy is still used to date.
The trophy weighs 6.5 lbs or 2.967 kg, and its measurement is around 27cm by 20.5cm. The current value of the cup is thought to be £20,000.
The original design was used in the competition till the 1980/81 season, after which the sponsors, Milk Marketing Board, introduced their trophy for the competition.
Littlewoods, the next sponsor, used the same trophy, too, till the 1989/90 season.
The original cup then made a comeback from the 1990/91 season, and that trophy has been used ever since.
Winners and Record Holders
Coming to the record holders in the Carabao Cup:
- Liverpool has won the competition 9 times which is the current record. Liverpool also holds the record of being in the finals 13 times, the next best is Manchester United 10 appearances.
- West Ham United, Everton, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Bolton, and Southampton are tied for the most number of appearances in the final without ever winning it with two appearances each.
- Wolves hold the record for most appearances in the final without losing, Wolves have been in the final two times and winning the cup both times.
- Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are the two most decorated players in EFL Cup history. Both players have won the trophy six times in their respective careers.
- Pep Guardiola is the most decorated manager of all time in the Carabao Cup. The Spaniard has won the competition 4 times with Manchester City.
The winners of the Carabao Cup receive a prize money of £100,000 and the runners-up receive £50,000.
The prize money in comparison to the FA Cup is peanuts, and that is also the reason why the top clubs put out their B-teams earlier in the competition.
|Round||No. of Teams||Prize Money(£)|
The winners of the Carabao Cup also get a direct spot in next year’s group stages of the European Conference League, which is the third tier of European competition.
Conclusion – FA Cup vs Carabao Cup
The FA Cup and the League Cup are two completely different domestic competitions in England. The format, prize, teams, and trophy differ from each other on so many levels.
But, the fact remains, winning both the cups adds to the glory and riches of the clubs that win it.
People will try to play down the importance of domestic competitions, but in the end, these trophies go into the cabinets of their clubs, and these cups, in the end, make all the clubs relevant one way or the other.