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FA Cup is the oldest professional football tournament in the world. First held in 1871, it has grown to become the most prestigious championships in the UK until today. Unlike any other national cup competition whose contestants are only the professional teams, FA Cup has its own unique rule. The entire clubs in England, including the semi pro ones from the tenth tier in English football football system could play in this tournament.
The FA Cup has always been using the knockout format since the beginning and been divided into two stages considering the huge number of participants. The winner of this competition also earns the direct ticket to the UEFA Europa League in the following season. Its semi finals and finals are staged traditionally in Wembley stadium. However, some other venues, particularly in London, were opted for hosting the finals too, mainly in the first fifty one editions before Wembley was opened.
Throughout the history, there have never been any dominating clubs to win FA Cup. The so called ‘giant killers’ phenomenon is always plausible, although it is getting less and less nowadays. However, the high profile teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool or even Tottenham Hostpur do not regularly thrive each year. That is what makes FA Cup unique and exciting compared to the other similar competitions. No wonder that it has drawn a great deal of fans with the average of more than 6 million viewers to watch the FA Cup finals each season.
Arsenal is currently the record holder with fourteen titles in hand, followed by Manchester United with twelve trophies. The former Arsenal man, Ashley Cole, holds the record of a player winning the most titles with seven times lifting the trophy. Meanwhile, his former boss, Arsene Wenger, is the record holder manager in FA Cup with seven silverwares throughout his managerial career in Highbury and Emirates Stadium.
There are two stages in this competition, the qualifying competition and the competition proper. The former stage runs from August to October for the clubs in level 10 to level five in English football system, while the latter stage begins in November with the entrance of League One and League Two teams. The Premier League and Championship sides just start off their campaign in January when the competition proper is already at the third round. The final normally takes place a week after the Premier League season ends. This tournament was also known for its replay rule to decide the winner of tie results. In the past, the replay was also contested in the final. Nevertheless, such has been abolished entirely since 2018/19 and changed to extra time and penalty shootout to avoid congested fixtures, especially for the teams qualifying to the latter stages of Champions League or Europa League. The last replay in the final was held in 1993 edition, whereas the last replay at the earlier stage was in 2017/18 fifth round between Tottenham and Rochdale.
FA Cup has also always been using for its single game, instead of two-legged system at each stage. The host team is determined through a draw. In the past, the replay functioned as the ‘second leg’ since the home side became the away side in the replay. However, such is no longer possible as the replay system has been scrapped off entirely and the semi finals and the finals are staged at the neutral venue. Before playing them in Wembley exclusively since 2008, there have been various stadiums chosen to hold the last four such as Kennington Oval, Hillsborough, Old Trafford, and Villa Park. The finals, on the other hand, had been in many more venues before the opening of Wembley in 1923. Those which once hosted the summit were Kennington Oval, Crystal Palace Park, Stamford Bridge and University of Oxford’s Lillie Bridge in London, Old Trafford and Fallowfield Stadium in Manchester, Burnden Park in Bolton, Racecourse Ground in Derby, Goodison Park in Liverpool, Bramall Lane in Sheffield and Millenium Stadium in Cardiff which replaced Wembley during its renovation between 2001 and 2006.
Do not miss out the chance to see your favourite teams’ campaign in FA Cup at each stage. Log on to SafeTicketCompare.com to get the best deals for your tickets in all venues as well as the information for your best seats just to support your team in this classic tournament.
There have been several historic moments in FA Cup finals. The most memorable ones took place in different eras. In 1901 final, Tottenham Hotspurs became the first and only non-league semi pro team which clinched the title. Spurs back then was still included in Southern League before joining the professional league in 1908. They beat Sheffield United 3-1 in the summit. In 1923, it was the first ever final held in old Wembley with 125,000 spectators watching the encounter of Bolton Wanderers and West Ham. It was the edition which was more well-known as ‘the White Horse’ final since several police mounting on white horses had to be deployed to clear the crowds. Another one was the first ever final held indoors in 2003. The game between Arsenal and Southampton was played in Millenium Stadium in Cardiff during the bad weather. Therefore, the roof was closed to cover the pitch from the rain.
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