Carabao Cup to introduce new format due to Champions League expansion

  • Carabao Cup third round will be split over two weeks in 2024/25
  • Clash with Champions League and Europa League matchday one
  • Seeding system aims to ease fixture congestion for clubs in Europe
The Carabao Cup is having to adapt due to European changes
The Carabao Cup is having to adapt due to European changes / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

The Carabao Cup is set to include seedings from next season in a bid to keep some big clubs apart, all in an attempt to ease fixture congestion amid changes to the Champions League.

Europe's top competition has dispensed with its traditional group stage, where 32 clubs were divided into eight groups, replacing it with a single 36-team league phase. In the new format, each team will now play eight times, creating two additional matchdays in the first half of the season.

English clubs competing in Europe get a bye to the third round of the Carabao Cup, but next season's third round on 17-18 September directly clashes with matchday one of the Champions League.

The third round was already going to be split over two weeks, featuring games on 24-25 September to spread the fixture load and ease congestion. The Europa League's new league phase begins on 26 September, clashing with the Carabao Cup third round's overspill second week.

The Daily Telegraph reports that ranked seedings will ensure no Champions League qualifiers are drawn with Europa League teams.

The Conference League won't clash then as its league stage isn't scheduled to begin until 3 October. But it may be necessary to introduce further measures for the Carabao Cup fifth round as there stands to be a fixture clash with matchday six in the Conference League.

The Champions League is changing from 2024/25 onwards
The Champions League is changing from 2024/25 onwards / GABRIEL BOUYS/GettyImages

A clash between the Carabao Cup and an international competition has already been seen, with Liverpool forced to field an Under-23 squad for a quarter-final tie against Aston Villa in December 2019 at the same time as the first-team was contesting the FIFA Club World Cup.

Complaints about fixture congestion is valid, especially for those competing in Europe. But some clubs have been criticised for arranging and participating in meaningless exhibition games.

Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur jetted off to Australia immediately after the Premier League campaign finished earlier this month to play a post-season friendly in Melbourne.