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Carabao Cup set for one-legged semi-finals format from next season

Carabao Cup set for one-legged semi-finals format from next season

The Carabao Cup is set to establish a one-legged semi-finals format from next season, marking a significant switch from its 52-year tradition, the Daily Mail reports.

The transition is contingent upon the approval of a proposed funding package worth around £900 million over six years.

While English Football League clubs have been informed about the significant shift, the decision still needs to be ratified by Premier League clubs.

The EFL has been under pressure from the Premier League to streamline the competition by opting for single-legged semi-finals, primarily to ease fixture congestion, which has been a longstanding concern. 

However, the financial implications had previously deterred the EFL from adopting the change, given the commercial value of the Carabao Cup, which contributes a third of the EFL’s domestic TV deal with Sky Sports. 

The two-legged semi-final format is also particularly enticing to broadcasters as they unfold during a midweek slot in January when no other football is televised.

However, the EFL has been offered a reprieve with a new £935m Sky Sports deal, which permits the abandonment of the two-legged semi-finals without incurring any financial penalties from next season.

While the final details still need to be finalised, the transition could introduce the concept of neutral venues for the Carabao Cup semi-finals for the first time.

The EFL has been negotiating a ‘New Deal for Football’ deal with the Premier League since 2020, and both parties are reportedly closing in on an agreement.

The new package will see lower division clubs receive 14.75% of the combined broadcast revenues of both parties from 2024.

The proposal is still subject to approval from Premier League clubs, but there is growing confidence on all sides that an agreement can be reached before the end of the season.

The FA has also expressed a willingness to help ease fixture congestion by considering the elimination of FA Cup replays in the third and fourth rounds.

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