The Carabao Cup draw has been dogged by problems over its opening two rounds but a desire to keep the latest instalment from public view is not behind the decision to hold it at 4.15am BST on Thursday.
The third-round draw, which marks the entry into the competition of the seven Premier League clubs engaged in European competition this season, is due to be held in Beijing at around 11.15am. That means fans in England and Wales will have to be up at 4.15am to follow it live on the EFL’s Carabao Cup Twitter feed.
The second-round matches take place on Tuesday and Wednesday and 32 clubs will be involved in Thursday’s draw, including the holders, Manchester United.
The draws have not run smoothly this season. The first-round draw, held in Thailand where the makers of the Carabao energy drink are based, descended into farce as Charlton Athletic were shown to be playing twice and other clubs were given the wrong opponents in an on-screen graphic.
Problems also surfaced in the second-round draw, with a number of clubs in the southern section, including Norwich, Charlton, Brentford and Watford, tweeting about their confusion regarding whether they were at home or away.