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There are several football cup competitions in England for clubs at different levels of the football pyramid, but the most important ones are the Football Association Cup and the EFL Cup, which is the oldest national league. The winners of these two competitions qualify for the UEFA Europa League.
Additionally, there are various leagues – the country’s major domestic such competition, the Premier League, is one of the most popular and richest sports leagues in the world.
“Cup” is what the English call a tournament, and they go on throughout the year. In England, the biggest and best of them all is the FA Cup, which started in 1871/72 and is globally known as the most prestigious domestic cup competition in football. It is basically a tournament for pretty much every soccer team in England. It runs from August to May and in 2015/16 season, no less than 736 clubs took part in FA Cup.
Given that there are so many teams involved, the pairings are drawn at random and the preliminary rounds begin in August. Then there are four rounds of qualifying, followed by the “proper” rounds starting in November. The big teams come in around January, in the Third Round Proper, and this is when the nation really starts to pay attention.
The second major cup competition in England is the League Cup (EFL), which was introduced eighty-nine years after the FA Cup and was conceived as the FA Cup’s consolation tournament.
It is essentially the same deal as FA Cup, but only 92 clubs compete in this competition, compared to more than 700 clubs taking part in the former. They are all within the top four levels of the English football league system, meaning Premier League and EFL clubs.
The EFL Cup is currently known as the Carabao Cup for sponsorship reasons and the tournament is played over seven rounds with single leg ties throughout, expect the semifinals, which are played in two legs, one at each stadium, and total goals win.
There is also the FA Community Shield, a competition in which a single match is played each August between the FA Cup winners and the Premier League champions.
Finally, the country’s primary professional football competition, the Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world and ranks third in the UEFA coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the past five seasons.
Contested by 20 clubs, the Premier League is really the top of a massive pyramid of clubs and it’s designed as a corporation in which the member clubs act as shareholders. Seasons run from August to May and the participating clubs play 38 matches each. Basically, the teams play each of the other teams in the league twice, home and away, totalling 380 matches in the season. They are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. The top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the UEFA Champions League.