Carabao Cup ‘set to start before the Premier League’ next season to save the competition amid scheduling chaos with some top-flight teams poised to treat early rounds as part of their pre-season preparations
- Next season’s Premier League is expected to start on September 12
- But some top-flight teams may have played Carabao Cup games by that point
- First two rounds of the competition are set to be played prior to that date
- Second round could be played during the early September international break
- There is an increased chance of clashes between cup ties and European games
The 2020-21 Premier League season is likely to begin on September 12 but some top-flight teams could already have played competitively by that point.
That’s because, according to The Sun, the Carabao Cup first round will be played at the end of August and the second round during the international break in early September.
Manchester City lift the Carabao Cup following their 2-1 victory over Aston Villa back in March – next season’s competition could begin prior to the start of the Premier League season
The first two rounds of the 2020-21 Carabao Cup could be played before the start of the Premier League season on September 12
Alternatively, the first round will start on September 5, the day England are set to play away to Iceland in their opening UEFA Nations League fixture.
Some leading teams set to play in the Champions League or Europa League had reportedly wanted the Carabao Cup scrapped for next season at least.
But the tournament remains a money-spinner for the EFL, accounting for a third of their income through a 10 per cent share of gate receipts for every tie.
Its continuation raises the chances of midweek Carabao Cup rounds clashing with Champions League and Europa League games.
The two European competitions for this season will only conclude on August 23 because of the Covid-19 shutdown, pushing back the start date for next season as a knock-on effect.
It means scenarios such as the one Liverpool faced last season when their Carabao Cup quarter-final tie away to Aston Villa clashed with their appearance at the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.
Gareth Southgate’s England side are set to be in action on September 5 but some Premier League teams could be in action in the Carabao Cup second round
Liverpool fielded a youthful team against Aston Villa in this season’s quarter-final tie with the first-team in Qatar for the FIFA Club World Cup
The young Liverpool side were thrashed 5-0 but at least managed to fulfil their fixture
It led to the first-team flying out to the Middle-East while a reserve side led by under-23 coach Neil Critchley were thrashed 5-0 at Villa Park.
The Premier League teams playing in Europe usually enter the Carabao Cup in the third round with every other top division side starting in the second round.
That raises the possibility of second round ties being essentially part of pre-season for most Premier League clubs.
In any case, elite clubs typically field weakened or youthful line-ups in the early rounds.
However, their squad strength invariably carries them through with the last seven League Cup finals won by Manchester City (five times), Chelsea and Manchester United.
The Scottish League Cup has been played mainly during pre-season in recent years though that competition concludes in November.