The Football League Cup, or simply the League Cup, is an annual knockout association football competition in men's domestic English football. Organised by The Football League, it is open to any club in the top four levels of the English football league system - 92 clubs in total - comprising the top level Premier League, and the three divisions of The Football League's own league competition (Championship, League One and League Two). For sponsorship reasons, from 2012 through to 2016 it is also known as Capital One Cup. The women's game has its own League Cup, but it is organised by The Football Association.
First held in 1960–61, it is one of the three top domestic football competitions in England, alongside the Premier League and FA Cup. It concludes in February, long before the other two, which end in May. It was introduced by the league as a response to the growing popularity of European football, and to also exert power over the FA. It also took advantage of the roll-out of floodlights, allowing the fixtures to be played as midweek evening games.
The tournament is played over seven rounds, with single leg ties throughout, except the semi-finals. The final is held at Wembley Stadium; it is the only tie in the competition played at a neutral venue or on a weekend (Sunday). Entrants are seeded in the early rounds, and a system of byes based on league level ensures higher ranked teams enter in later rounds, and to defer the entry of teams still involved in Europe. Winners receive the Football League Cup, of which there have been three designs, the current one also being the original. Winners also qualify for European football with a place in the UEFA Europa League - although this place is transferred to the highest-placed Premier League team not already qualified for Europe, should the winner also qualify for the Champions League at the end of the season. The current holders are Manchester City, who beat Liverpool 3–1 on penalties (1–1 a.e.t.) in the 2016 final to win their fourth League Cup. Liverpool are the most successful club in the history of the tournament with a total of eight wins.