This week the English Premiership teams entered the fray of the League Cup to mass nonchalance from football supporters worldwide. The Premierships abundance of riches in the form of world renowned footballers almost all got the night off to keep half an eye on proceedings from the stands whilst updating their Twitter feed.
The competition was initially set up as a floodlit cup, where teams could give their new spangled lighting apparatus tests, and it was only when the allure of a place in the UEFA cup for the winners was introduced did the bigger clubs grudgingly agree to take part.
The competition has seemingly lost its allure, with all the bigger premiership clubs seeing the cup as a hassle more than anything else, so what can be done to make England’s League cup a more viable and entertaining proposition going forward.
As the competition needs changing and was initially set up to be played under floodlights, why not change the formula and play the games in complete darkness. Teams would face each other, not knowing what strength of team they are facing, and whether Wayne Rooney is calling for the ball, or Manchester United are playing an injured Orang-utan up front.
Players around the country would be put on a strict diet of carrots the weak before the game in order to be better equipped for the dark. The atmosphere could be livened up by handing out glow sticks to the fans in the colour of their teams, whilst the PA system can blare out some pounding techno music. Capital One would probably drop out as a sponsor, but I’m sure we would all enjoy the Ministry of Sound League Cup. The only way is up for Disco Football.
If the authorities of football strangely think that playing football in the dark is a bad idea (killjoy’s) then perhaps they would consider the notion of making each match fancy dress. The fans would have a great time coming in fancy dress, but more importantly, the entertainment value of the match would be greatly increased when you see Fernando Torres missing a sitter dressed as Aladdin. A crucial penalty save in the semi-final from Joe Hart, who came dressed as Long John Silver or John Terry coming on as a substitute in a full gimp suit that he had lying around at home. Even the managers could get into the spirit of things and come dressed up, although the idea might fall flat when Di Canio comes dressed as Benito Mussolini.
Perhaps the only way to liven up the entertainment of the league cup is to enact real time punishments for culprits of bad or unsporting play. If a goalkeeper makes a mistake costing a goal, he is forced to play the remainder of the game in a Victorian diver’s suit. If a striker misses what is deemed as an easy chance, he has to spend ten minutes in a sin bin where Mark Lawrenson calls him crap on repeat. Ashley Young would think twice about diving, if the punishment was for the 18 yard box to open up and drop him into a pre-built tiger enclosure. Referees are no longer required to carry a whistle, but do have a Taser. Last but not least, an interactive poll at half time allows the fans to choose which player isn’t working hard enough for their team, the winner having to come out at half time followed by a Jack Russell dog who continually chases him for the second half.
The league cup could become a pantomime of football, if only the FA could use their imagination.