£100m League Cup under threat despite UEFA 'smokescreen', EFL chairman Rick Parry warns

Football League chairman Rick Parry says UEFA's decision to scale back its Champions League expansion is a smokescreen which threatens the future of the League Cup and £100m of revenue to his 72 clubs.

WARNING: Football League chairman Rick Parry
WARNING: Football League chairman Rick Parry

UEFA dropped plans to increase the Champions League group stage to 10 games in the face of opponents who felt it was becoming a watered-down version of the rejected European Super League. They compromised on eight matches in a "Swiss model" where all 36 teams will appear in one league table despite only playing some opponents.

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But in an interview with The Times, Parry stressed the threat to the Carabao-sponsored League Cup was unchanged.

“In terms of the impact on midweek fixtures, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, in true UEFA fashion we’ve still got the same number of matchdates,” he says. “Only eight games, but spread across 10 dates (with one exclusively for the Europa League, and one for the Europa Conference League), so that really doesn’t help us.

“Of course it’s going to have an impact on the Carabao Cup. It’s pointless to pretend that it won’t.

“To suggest that we will carry on without any form of change is unrealistic. Equally, to say this is now the demise of the League Cup is too far in the other direction at this stage. Could it be an outcome? Yes, of course it could.

“Frankly, we have to maybe face up to the unpalatable, but it’s extraordinarily valuable to the EFL. It’s pretty much half of our media revenues and so you are talking about £100m worth of our clubs’ TV revenue and gate receipts. It’s a very valuable part of the mix.

"Parry has long been pushing not only for the Premier League to pass an extra £250m per year down the pyramid but for it to be distributed more evenly.

Both Championship automatic promotion places went to teams in receipt of parachute payments, Sheffield United made the play-offs and Huddersfield Town, who contest Sunday's final with Nottingham Forest, are in the final year of the payments, designed to cushion the fall when teams are relegated from the world's most lucrative domestic football league into the Championship.

Parry claimed that in the last 12 years the overall value of the payments has gone from £30m to £250m, and the likelihood of teams receiving them winning promotion has gone up 50 per cent compared to 2007-17.

“It is a major distortion,” he said. “It is also baked into the solidarity agreement (between the Premier League and Football League) that the solidarity payments that the other Championship clubs will get is 11 per cent of the first year of parachute. So it is by definition saying parachute clubs get ten times as much.”

Clubs relegated from the Premier League receive 55 per cent of the club's share of broadcast revenue (around £44m) the following season, 45 per cent in season two if they are still in the Championship, and 20 per cent in year three. Clubs who only spent one season in the Premier League do not receive the third payment.

In a wide-ranging interview, Parry also revealed he is open to the use of video assistant referees in the 2023-24 Championship if clubs agree. All three of this summer's Football League (EFL) play-off finals will use the controversial system.