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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cup Guide

You wouldn't make it in pro football, but you could still try to qualify for the FA Cup.

Like me, you're sitting there in your home or office (or perhaps they are the same place) waiting for the Carling Cup match to start at 3PM Eastern time so you can start following it on The ESPN's gamecast or Setanta if you're a lucky bastard that gets that station. Arsenal is playing Tottenham and you have money on the game, but what does it all mean? It's too bad that there isn't some magical free encyclopedia-like web site that you could go to and find out. Don't fret, friend. Here's the "411" on the cup competitions relevant to English soccer.

Carling Cup
The Carling Cup is really the Football League Cup, which is sponsored by Carling, an English beer company. It is a seven round tournament of England's top 92 teams. The 2006-2007 tournament started in August of '06 and will finish this February 25th. All matches, with the exception of the final, take place on weeknights.

FA Cup
A whopping 687 teams entered the preliminary round of the FA Cup this year, which is the oldest soccer tournament in world history. The first FA Cup tournament took place in 1971-72. It's bigger and more prestigious than the Football League Cup, so when an FA Cup match is on at your local pub, you might want to say something like "Boy, this sure beats the hell out of watching that Carling Cup bullshit!" if you want to impress your English bartender.

The winner of the Carling Cup qualifies to join in the UEFA Cup (see below), as does the winner of the FA Cup. If the FA Cup winner will be participating in the Champions League (see below), the highest finishing FA Cup team to have not qualified for the Champions League gets a UEFA Cup entry.

This is sort of like the Carling Cup of Europe. There are 88 club teams that participate. Qualifying started in July 2006 and the final will be in May of 2007. Even more absurdly long than the NASCAR or PGA season here. Matches do not take place every week though.

UEFA Champions League
This is the big one. 32 of the best club teams in Europe qualify for the Champions League (never mind how). The top two teams in each of the eight groups of four advance to the knockout stage, which is starting in February. The final match will also be in May.

There really is no equivalent to this cup competition format in the US that I'm aware of, where the tournament is spread out across the better half of an entire year. My guess is that they exist to give the teams lots of matches to make money from ticket sales and tv revenue at this point. Plus you can bet on them. Which is nice.

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  • At 5:14 AM, Blogger Sportingo said…


    Would you be interested in publishing any articles on football?


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