By Andrew Warshaw
September 18 – French authorities are scrapping the country’s League Cup after this season, leaving England as the only major European footballing nation with two domestic knockout competitions.
The French League Cup was founded in 1994 and includes all the clubs from France’s two top divisions and some from the third tier.
The winners of the Coupe de la League enter the Europa League. This season, that place went to Strasbourg, who were subsequently eliminated in qualifying playoffs.
The place will in future be determined by the Ligue 1 final table, a far more popular concept with the French footballing public.
Like in England, the French League Cup has never matched the prestige or aura of the nation’s main domestic cup competition. To prove how devalued it had become, the LFP had failed to secure a broadcaster for the 2020-2024 period, ultimately sounding the death knell for the tournament.
“This decision enables the calendar of competitions to be eased, giving greater time for players to recover and it also offers an extra European spot via Ligue 1 from 2020-21,” explained a French League Cup statement. “Depending on the market, the LFP reserves the right to relaunch the competition at a later date.”
The decision comes as the European Club Association pushes for a reduction in national calendars in order to create more space for an potential expanded Champions League from 2024, something that is still being widely debated with no consensus yet from the various parties involved.
The move will not go unnoticed among critics of the League Cup in England which invariably involves clubs putting out reserve teams, at least until the latter stages.
Although it presents the possibility of a trophy (much needed by some clubs) plus a Europa League spot, many view it as an unnecessary, unloved and not particularly lucrative distraction, arguing it is only in place because of tradition and should be ditched to ease fixture congestion and give players more rest in a country where the domestic league is already larger and arguably more energy-sapping than any of its European counterparts.
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