What is the FA Cup?The FA Cup is the world’s oldest football competition founded and competed in England between all clubs in England’s Football Association. The competition runs from August until May, across the entire winter football season and for many years was considered as the pinnacle trophy of English club football competition.
FA Cup HistoryThe competition is named after English football’s governing body, the Football Association, and has been played every season since its debut in the 1871-72 season (except for the War-time years). The first-ever winners were Wanderers FC, who dissolved in 1887. The most successful club in FA Cup tournament history is Arsenal FC, with 14 titles. They also hold the record for most appearances in an FA Cup Final with 21. Leicester City were crowned champions for the first time in 2021. As of January 2021, only one non-League team (division five and lower) has ever reached the quarterfinals, while no team below division two (EFL Championship) has ever reached the Final.
FA Cup FormatThe FA Cup is a knockout tournament that is open to any club from the Premier League all the way down to the 10th level of English football. By default, all 92 clubs in the English Football League (Premier League, EFL Championship, EFL League One, and EFL League Two) are automatically entered at different stages of the tournament. The first six rounds of the competition are qualifying rounds where eligible lower teams battle it out to be one of the 32 to advance to the First Round, where they face off against teams from League One and League Two.
Clubs from the Premier League and Championship enter in the Third Round and finish out the competition from there. Opponents are selected at random by way of a draw. The tournament is 12 rounds long, finished by semi-finals and a final at Wembley Stadium in May, in what is one of the final matches of the English football league season.
FA Cup ReplayThe FA cup replay has a long-standing, and more complicated modern history in the competition. All matches up to and including the fourth round that end in a draw are then replayed on another scheduled date. It’s a somewhat controversial rule that often draws criticism from the top clubs in English football, who already struggle with extensive fixture list throughout the season. Traditionally however, replays have been big-earning events for lower-league and non-league clubs. The replay rule was scrapped for season 2021-21 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but was reinstated ahead of the 2021-22 season.