The English Football League has defended the decision to hold the draw for the next round of its League Cup competition in China.
The draw for the 16 ties that will make up Round Three of the 2017/18 Carabao Cup took place early Thursday morning at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Beijing and was conducted by Chinese sports commentator Su Dong.
The League Cup－also known as the Carabao Cup after its new sponsor－is one of two major domestic knockout tournaments in England, along with the FA Cup.
The EFL and Carabao, the Thai energy drink brand, decided to hold the third-round draw in China to promote the tournament in the Asian market, according to an EFL statement released Monday.
But while the move pleased sponsors, it was criticized by fans in the UK due to the timing of the draw, at 4:15 am BST.
"We understand that not everyone will agree on the timing of this week's round three draw," the EFL statement read. "Our decision to go to China is part of a strategic plan to grow the EFL internationally and specifically boost profile and exposure in ASEAN markets." Carabao signed a deal with the EFL last year that sees the tournament rebranded from 2017 to 2020. The League Cup has previously taken the name of other sponsors, including Coca-Cola and Carling.
The Carabao Cup first-round draw was held in Thailand in June and the second round was held in the Sky Sports studios in London in early August.
Both televised broadcasts suffered mishaps where teams were drawn in the wrong order or too many times. The draw in Beijing was not televised, with fans learning of results on the Carabao Cup's social media channels.
The 16 fixtures will be played in the week commencing Sept 18.
The draw coincided with the EFL's first summit in Asia, held in Beijing on Wednesday.