The English Football League (EFL) are not making any changes to the Carabao Cup’s two-legged semi-final format for the 2024-25 season.
EFL chief executive Trevor Birch has stated there is “no agreement in place” to change a format “which continues to provide significant financial benefit to EFL clubs”.
The news arrives amid discussions over funding arrangements between the Premier League and EFL clubs, as well as rising concerns over player welfare.
Birch also called for greater financial support from Premier League clubs for any significant changes to be made to the fixture calendar.
“Whilst the fixture calendar remains a shared asset across the EFL, Premier League and Football Association, additional pressures from revamped European competitions means that scheduling across the season remains challenging and complex, so it requires a whole game response to find a solution,” Birch said.
“As it stands there is no agreement in place to make any changes to the Carabao Cup’s two-legged semi-final format, which continues to provide significant financial benefit to EFL clubs.
“The league remains committed to a review of the calendar, but any significant changes cannot be made unilaterally, and would need to come with significant levels of compensation and adopted as part of any new distribution deal with the Premier League and its clubs.”
The two-legged semi-finals can be a valuable source of income for the EFL, as being staged in midweek slots when there are often fewer other club matches is attractive for broadcasters.
Similarly, if single-leg semi-finals are held at a neutral venue, such as the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley Stadium, the EFL would have to pay the ground owners to use the pitch. Keeping the semi-finals at the stadiums of the involved teams is more cost-efficient and brings in greater revenue for the participating clubs.
The Premier League proposed lower-league clubs a “new deal” for football in October, and calendar changes were part of the discussions. This included single-leg semi-finals for the Carabao Cup, which is the EFL’s most valuable broadcast asset. Unlike the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup semi-final is the only round across the two major English domestic cup competitions played over two legs.
The latest news indicates, however, that there has been no deal agreed yet between the league bodies. The expansion of UEFA’s club competitions is also likely to create further fixture congestion for Premier League clubs from next season.
This campaign’s Carabao Cup will complete its semi-final stage on Wednesday when Fulham take on Liverpool, with the winner facing Chelsea in the final on February 25. Liverpool hold a 2-1 lead heading into the second leg at Craven Cottage.
(Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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