Despite Its Paltry £100k Prize, EFL Cup Success Is Huge For Newcastle & Man Utd

Manchester United and Newcastle United go head-to-head in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday
14:00, 24 Feb 2023

Isn't it funny how being crap for a while focuses the mind? 

Manchester United and Newcastle United contest the EFL Cup final this weekend. The third-best domestic trophy in the country with only £100,000 for the winner. 

Yet the tournament in which many competing clubs can’t be bothered to put out a first team is of massive importance to both.


Newcastle, now the richest club in the world bankrolled by shady Saudi Arabia with its dodgy politics, have not won anything of note since the 1955 FA Cup. The country itself was only created in its current form 23 years earlier.

For Manchester United, there have been six barren years since 2017 when they won this much maligned trophy and the equally dismissed Europa League. 

Striker Marcus Rashford and keeper David de Gea are the only surviving members of the squad from the 3-2 win over Southampton such has been the upheaval at Old Trafford since.

It is somewhat romantic for the 90,000-plus supporters of these two northern clubs heading to Wembley, that the battle to win a competition which offers peanuts in prize money and only qualification to the second-rate Europa League should be such a showpiece. 

But for a team like Manchester United, six seasons without a new piece of silverware to add to the collection is embarrassing.

This is a team that used to collect cups like legendary manager Alex Ferguson used to collect betting slips. After years in the wilderness they are now playing catch-up to the new elite like a late charge from an outsider in the Grand National.

Newcastle is a different story. Starved of investment and proper management for decades, they somehow have got by on being a well-supported working class club held in affection by many of their rivals who admired the loyalty of the fans forced to watch the kind of stuff that fell out of many a horse’s backside in the final furlong.

For them particularly this is a special day. Just as many Chelsea fans regard the 1997 FA Cup win over Middlesbrough as their return from the wilderness; they cherish that day more than any triumph since. 

And the supporters in attendance at Wembley should make a particular effort to remember this coming Sunday, because it could well mark yet another significant step change in the futures of both teams.

Manchester United have been the subject of a proposed £5 billion takeover by Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani with debate raging already over whether he is just a front for the country’s ruling elite.


Newcastle have firmly rebuffed claims that the controversial Saudi Arabian regime with its penchant for executions and medieval laws are more than just the money men at St. James’ Park.

Whether he is or isn’t, whether they are or are not is of interest but on a cup final day when crowds sing and the old-fashioned values of English football are at their most celebrated, it is worth noting that the Arabian peninsula is hardly a hotbed of the beautiful game.

Whoever wins, rest assured the news will not be greeted with wild abandon and all-night street-choking car parties in neither Riyadh nor Doha.

Qatar’s national team was a disaster at the World Cup. I was there and feel safe saying that even had they actually won or drawn a match the result would have been received with a large dose of silence. 

There was no carnival atmosphere around the tournament, no sense of reality being suspended for a month as it is in most other host nations. It was up to the foreign fans, the expats and the immigrant workers to keep the party going. 

The same will be true in Riyadh. Growing the game is as hard as growing flowers in the desert.

For the multi-billionaires who either own Newcastle or covet Manchester United, winning Sunday’s cup is merely about the next step. It’s not even about money because they have plenty of that already. Premier League clubs are toys to them.

Newcastle aren’t alone in having dodgy owners. Every large corporation in every industry is either ripping someone off or pillaging the planet on some scale.

There are porn barons and ambitious American super-capitalists to go with the mysterious nation states controlling our biggest clubs. 

United’s despised ruling family the Glazers have shown precious little appreciation of the whimsical side of football. 

The supporters of Newcastle and Manchester United should make the most of this cup final because as well as being the first for a while it could be one of the last of its kind.

Newcastle are 11/8 to win the League Cup with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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