The Football Association Challenge Cup is an annual knockout football competition in men’s domestic English football. The tournament consists of 12 randomly drawn rounds followed by the semi-finals and the final. Since 2015, it has been known as The Emirates FA Cup after its headline sponsor, The Emirates. Arsenal are the current holders, having beaten Chelsea 2–1 in the 2020 final.
About FA Cup in brief
The Football Association Challenge Cup is an annual knockout football competition in men’s domestic English football. First played during the 1871–72 season, it is the oldest national football competition in the world. The tournament consists of 12 randomly drawn rounds followed by the semi-finals and the final. Winners receive the FA Cup trophy, of which there have been two designs and five actual cups. Arsenal are the current holders, having beaten Chelsea 2–1 in the 2020 final. A concurrent women’s tournament is also held, the FA Women’s Cup. The competition is open to any eligible club down to Level 10 of the English football league system – all 92 professional clubs in the Premier League and the English Football League. It is also open to several hundred non-League teams in steps 1 to 6 of the National League System. Since 2015, it has been known as The Emirates FA Cup after its headline sponsor, The Emirates. The current holders are Arsenal, with Arsène Wenger the most successful manager in the history of the competition, having won seven finals as Arsenal’s manager. A record 763 clubs competed in 2011–12, with the competition returning to Wembley for the first time in 2007. The final was the first final to be played in the newly opened Wembley Stadium. The 1923 FA Cup Final, commonly known as the ‘White Horse Final’, saw the final played outside of England for thefirst time, the 2001–2006 finals being played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The FA Women’s Cup is held every year, with a record of 763 teams taking part in the competition in 2011-12.
The first six rounds are the Qualifying Competition, from which 32 teams progress to the first round of the Competition Proper, meeting the first of the 48 professional teams from Leagues One and Two. In the modern era, only onenon-League team has ever reached the quarter-finals, and teams below Level 2 have never reached the final, as a result, significant focus is given to the smaller teams who progress furthest, especially if they achieve an unlikely ‘giant-killing’ victory. All clubs in England are automatically eligible for the competition if they are in the top six levels of the league system which meets eligibility criteria. Newly formed clubs, such as F.C. C. United of Manchester, may not play in their first FA Cup in 2005–06 and 2006–07, and also 2006–08. It can happen in exceptional circumstances, although it did not happen in 1999–2000, when Manchester United did not defend their title in the FA Trophy or FA Vase. Clubs in the next six levels are also eligible provided they have played in either FA Cup or FA Trophy in the previous season, or have a suitable stadium for the previous year. The latest is a 2014 replica of the second design, introduced in 1911. The modern cup was beginning to be established by the 1888–89 season, when qualifying rounds were introduced. Following the 1914–15 edition, the competition was suspended due to the First World War.