Why is the League Cup called the Carabao Cup? Past names of UK cup competition

The competition is known officially as the Carabao Cup, but why is it named after a drink, and what are its previous names? Goal takes a look

The Carabao Cup may not have the same reputation as its older sibling the FA Cup, which is regarded as the more prestigious of the two tournaments in England, but it is nevertheless a major top-flight trophy.

The competition was first held in 1960–61 as the Football League Cup, and is one of the three top-tier domestic football competitions in England alongside the Premier League and FA Cup. 

From 1981 to the present (minus 2016-17, when it was just named the EFL Cup), the League Cup has attracted title sponsorship – typically from drinks companies – which means, unlike the FA Cup, the League Cup has been named after its sponsor.

The League Cup has gone through many different sponsorship iterations, with it currently known officially as the Carabao Cup due to the energy drink sponsoring the tournament.

Carabao has been sponsoring the competition since 2017.

From 1960–61 to 1980–81, the competition had no sponsor, with it just known as the League Cup.

Additionally, until 2016, the tournament was named the English Football League Cup (EFL Cup) instead of the League Cup, following the rebranding of the Football League to the English Football League.

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EFL Cup former names

Prior to Carabao's sponsorship of the tournament starting from 2017, the competition was simply called the EFL Cup (2016-17), the Capital One Cup (2012-13 to 2015-16), the Carling Cup (sponsored by Molson Coors/Carling from 2003-04 to 2011-12), the Worthington Cup (sponsored by Worthington's from 1998-99 to 2002-03), and the Coca-Cola Cup (from 1992-93 to 1997-98).

Further previous name iterations and sponsors included the Littlewoods Challenge Cup and the Milk Cup (which was its first ever sponsor).

Years Sponsor Competition Name Trophy
1960-61 to 1980-81 No main title sponsor Football League Cup Original
1981-82 to 1985-86 Milk Marketing Board Milk Cup Sponsor designed
1986-87 to 1989-90 Littlewoods Littlewoods Challenge Cup Sponsor designed
1990-91 to 1991-92 Rumbelows Rumbelows Cup Original
1992-93 to 1997-98 Coca-Cola Coca-Cola Cup Original
1998-99 to 2002-03 Worthington's Worthington Cup Original
2003-04 to 2011-12 Molson Coors/Carling Carling Cup Original
2012-13 to 2015-16 Capital One Capital One Cup Original
2016-17 No main title sponsor EFL Cup Original
2017-18 to present Carabao Carabao Cup Original