EFL Cup vs FA Cup: What are the Differences?

Football has captured the hearts and imagination of millions around the globe for generations, captivating fans from many nations, with football leagues all around the world. England is one of these, and there are some iconic competitions that football fans watch year in year out.

Two iconic tournaments in English football include FA Cup and EFL Cup competitions that hold special significance, respectively. Here we take an in-depth look at both competitions’ differences and similarities in this article.

EFL Cup vs FA Cup, what are the differences?

The EFL Cup and FA Cup are two major cup competitions in English football, each boasting their own distinct qualities. While the FA Cup holds more prestige, including teams from across all levels of English football – from Premier League to lower divisions, the EFL Cup only includes teams from England’s top four leagues. Both tournaments follow a knockout format leading to finals; their participant selection and historical legacy give each competition it’s own distinctive standing among English football fans.

What Is the FA Cup?

The FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world
The FA Cup is the oldest cup competition in the world

The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly referred to as the FA Cup, is an English football knockout competition held each year since 1871-72 and consisting of 736 teams across England. These teams are from all levels and leagues of the English football pyramid. Winners earn entry into next season’s UEFA Europa League competition.

What is the history of the FA Cup?

The FA Cup or Football Association Challenge Cup boasts an illustrious history that dates back to 1871-1872 when first played. Established by the Football Association as an opportunity for clubs from different leagues and levels in England’s football pyramid to compete against one another. This competition provides clubs from all over the country an equal chance to participate, and has created some historic moments in the process.

Who are the most successful FA Cup teams?

Many teams have enjoyed great success in the FA Cup over time, often reaching its later rounds and winning multiple cups as a result of this. Here are five teams with most FA Cup victories:

  1. Arsenal – Arsenal holds the record for most FA Cup victories with 14, including memorable moments such as their “Double” success of 1971 when both league title and FA Cup titles were won simultaneously.
  2. Manchester United – Second to Arsenal with 12 FA Cup victories is Manchester United, boasting iconic triumphs, including their three-peat victory in 1999 and legendary victories like their legendary Treble-Winning Season in 1990-1991.
  3. Chelsea – Chelsea have won eight FA Cups, most recently in 2018 and 2020. As one of England’s most successful clubs, they are consistently challenging for honors. The Blues have excelled tremendously over the last 20 years.
  4. Tottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur have won eight FA Cup trophies, and many notable wins included their legendary “Double” win of 1961 when both the league championship and FA Cup were claimed simultaneously.
  5. Liverpool – With eight FA Cup victories under their belt since the clubs inception, and more recent success both domestically and abroad, Liverpool’s ability to win this coveted competition speaks for itself. Their many domestic championship victories have contributed to their history as a footballing institution.

Who has scored the most FA Cup goals?

Ian Rush is an FA Cup legend
Ian Rush is an FA Cup legend

Individually, Harry Cursham holds the record as FA Cup’s all-time goalscorer – scoring 49 in 44 games in the FA Cup. He achieved this feat playing for Notts County from 1877 to 1891.

Ian Rush is the second all time FA Cup scorer, bagging 44 goals in 77 appearances during his time playing for both Liverpool and Chester City. Rush was known for his clinical finishing ability and goal scoring prowess, leaving an indelible mark on this competition through his remarkable goal-scoring.

Famous FA Cup matches

Steven Gerrard is responsible for one of the most iconic FA Cup goals
Steven Gerrard is responsible for one of the most iconic FA Cup goals

The FA Cup has seen many exciting and memorable matches during its history, most famously in 1953’s ‘Matthews Final’ between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers where Stanley Matthews orchestrated an unbelievable comeback victory for Blackpool, winning 4-3 against Bolton Wanderers. It became known as an unforgettable spectacle and is still fondly remembered today.

1973 saw another iconic FA Cup encounter – known as “Crazy Gang vs. Culture Club Final”. Underdog Wimbledon faced Liverpool who were a powerhouse at the time, yet managed to come away victorious. They gained permanent bragging rights as FA Cup legends, with an unlikely 1-0 triumph that cemented Wimbledon in the history books forever.

Liverpool and West Ham United’s FA Cup final in 2006 remains vivid in our minds. Steven Gerrard became an FA Cup legend with his iconic performance. He scored a legendary long range goal that took the game to extra time. After extra time had concluded in an exciting 3-3 tie, a penalty shootout was the decider. Liverpool managed to keep their cool and came away victorious in an instant classic.

What is the EFL Cup?

The EFL Cup was founded in the 1960s
The EFL Cup was founded in the 1960s

The EFL Cup, currently known as the Carabao Cup and League Cup, is an English football knockout tournament featuring teams from the four tiers. Established in 1960-61, compared with FA Cup’s creation in 1872-83, winners earn entry into next season’s UEFA Europa Conference League competition as a prize.

What is the history of the EFL Cup?

The EFL Cup, commonly referred to as League Cup in English football, is an elite knockout tournament featuring teams from each of the top four tiers of English football’s pyramid. First held during the 1960-1961 season, which provided an additional opportunity for clubs to vie for silverware.

Who are the most successful EFL Cup teams?

Numerous teams have seen great success in the EFL Cup over time. Below are five of those with multiple EFL Cup victories:

  1. Liverpool – With nine EFL Cup wins under their belts, Liverpool holds the record as the most prolific winner of England’s secondary cup competition. Their success can be found both during dominant periods from the 80s and 2000s, ceding their status as one of its premier clubs. From 1981 to 1984, they won four in a row.
  2. Manchester City – Manchester City have won eight EFL Cup championships over time and during recent years under their revered manager Pep Guardiola they have done exceptionally well, winning multiple times under his guidance.
  3. Manchester UnitedManchester United has won six EFL Cup championships, each victory marked by memorable moments like their win in 2016-2017 when they defeated Southampton in the final.
  4. Aston Villa – Since the competitions inception, Aston Villa have won five EFL Cup championships – an achievement which speaks volumes of their history and tradition in English football.
  5. Chelsea – Chelsea have won five EFL Cup titles since they were founded, most recently taking home victory in 2015. These victories stand testimony to their standing amongst English football’s premier clubs.

Who has scored the most EFL Cup goals?

Geoff Hurst is renowned for his 1966 World Cup heroics
Geoff Hurst is renowned for his 1966 World Cup heroics

When it comes to the top scorers in the history of the EFL Cup, the honor belongs to Geoff Hurst and Ian Rush, who both netted 49 goals in the competition. Geoff Hurst, renowned for his heroics in England’s World Cup triumph in 1966, showcased his goal-scoring prowess in the EFL Cup as well. Ian Rush, as mentioned earlier, left an indelible mark in both the FA Cup and EFL Cup, displaying his consistent ability to find the back of the net.

Famous EFL Cup matches

The EFL Cup boasts some memorable fixtures as well. One such encounter occurred between Arsenal and Liverpool in 1987’s final, which ended up as an intense 2-2 tie before Arsenal went on to claim victory in a replayed final. The match finished 2-1 to Liverpool.

Cardiff City and Liverpool provided another memorable encounter during their 2012 final. Cardiff, then in the second tier, demonstrated remarkable resilience by forcing a 2-2 tie; however, Liverpool eventually triumphed through penalty shootout to claim their trophy.

Manchester City and Chelsea contested an epic EFL Cup Final match in 2019 that ended 0-0 after extra time, only for Manchester City to prevail 4-3 during penalty shootout and win their fourth title in six years.

These incredible EFL Cup matches highlight all of the excitement, drama, and unpredictability that makes the competition such a favourite among football fans worldwide.

What are the differences between the EFL Cup and FA Cup?

One key distinction between the FA Cup and EFL Cup lies in their level of competition: in the FA Cup, teams from different levels in football’s pyramid (from Premier League down to lower tiers) are involved, whereas the EFL Cup only accepts teams from the top four of those tiers.

How many teams compete in the EFL Cup and FA Cup?

Another key difference lies in the number of teams participating. For instance, 736 teams compete in the FA Cup while only 92 compete in EFL Cup; FA Cup has more round and takes more time, whereas the EFL Cup is played over fewer rounds. The EFL Cup is by far the shorter competition in terms of duration.

When do the EFL Cup and FA Cup take place?

Scheduling for both competitions differs. The FA Cup takes place mainly over weekends, with replays occurring during the week. Premier League teams join the action in Round 3. Meanwhile, the EFL Cup matches take place during weekdays, with Premier League and Championship teams joining in Round 2.

How much prize money do teams get for winning the EFL Cup and FA Cup?

Prize money varies considerably for both competitions; FA Cup winners receive trophies and £1.8 million, while the EFL Cup champions take home £100,000. FA Cup runners-up receive £900,000, while EFL Cup runner-ups only get half that sum at £450,000.

Does the EFL Cup and FA Cup get teams into Europe?

Though these competitions differ greatly in some respects, there are similarities as well. Both competitions are knockout tournaments whose winners advance into UEFA competitions (FA Cup into Europa League; EFL Cup into UEFA Europa Conference League).

Both competitions boast long histories and deep traditions, the FA Cup being the oldest football competition worldwide, and the EFL Cup has been around for more than 60 years.

Both competitions allow smaller teams the chance to challenge themselves against the best ones and cause upsets. Indeed, many lower league clubs have upset Premier League teams over the years in both tournaments.


Both competitions play major roles in English football. Their differences lie mainly within the level of competition, number of teams involved, scheduling arrangements, and prize pool amounts, yet these competitions share similar goals: to become one of England’s premier cup competitions and boost English players into international prominence.

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