The FA Cup officially known as The Football Association Challenge Cup is a yearly knock-out association football competition for English clubs It was first played in season 1871–72, which makes it the oldest association football competition in the world. It was named after the Football Association which organized the competition. However, from 2015 until 2018 the FA Cup also carries the name The Emirates FA Cup for sponsorship reasons. There is also women’s tournament which is called the FA Women’s Cup.
Every eligible club down to Level 10 of the English football league system can participate the competition. This means all 92 professional clubs in the Premier League, clubs in the English Football League, as well as several hundred “non-league” teams in Steps 1 to 6 of the National League System, can participate. A record number of teams 763 participated in the season 2011-12.
Furthermore, this tournament consists of 12 randomly drawn rounds which are followed by the semi-finals and the final. The first six rounds of the tournament represent the Qualifying Competition, after which 32 teams have the chance to progress to the first round of the Competition Proper. At this stage of competition, they are meeting the first of the 92 professional teams from Leagues One and Two. The last entrants in the tournament are the Premier League and Championship clubs which enter into the draw for the Third Round Proper. In the modern era, there was only one non-league team which reached the quarter-finals. Moreover, none of the teams below Level 2 have ever reached the final. Most successful clubs of the FA Cup are Manchester United and Arsenal with 12 trophies each. You can always bet on who will win the trophy each year, just check that website showing the best bookies online in order to choose the best odds to bet on.
The Football Association in 1863 presented the Laws of the Game of Association Football, which helped unifying various rules that were in use by that time. In July 1871, the Secretary of the FA C. W. Alcock proposed the creation of the tournament which would be established in connection with the Association and invite all the clubs which belong to the Association to compete.
The first FA Cup tournament started in November 1871, and the competition was won by the Wanderers in the final, on 16 March 1872. The establishment of the modern cup started in the season 1888–89 when qualifying rounds were introduced.
During the World War I the competition was suspended. It was resumed in the season 1919-20. In the final of the season 1922–23 first match was played at the newly opened Wembley Stadium which was known as the Empire Stadium at the time. The tournament was once again suspended during the World War II.
Despite the previous practice which included replays, since 2000 the competition ensured that the semi-final and final matches finish on the day. The first finals to be played outside of England were during the seasons 2001-2006 due to the redevelopment of Wembley. During those years finals were played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff before they returned to Wembley in 2007.
Since the season 1994–95, the FA Cup has been sponsored. In order to protect the identity and the legacy of the competition the sponsored name always included ‘The FA Cup’ beside their name. The first name of the tournament upon 1994-95 was The FA Cup sponsored by Littlewoods. In season 1998-99 the FA Cup became The AXA-Sponsored FA Cup. However, from 2002 to 2006 the tournament had no major sponsors, and for that reason, there were no additions to the name. In season 2006-07 the FA Cup became The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON and in 2001-12 The FA Cup with Budweiser. For one season the tournament was going under its original name until they made sponsorship with Emirates airline which became the sponsor from 2015-16. Therefore, today, the competition is referred to as ‘The Emirates FA Cup.’
Traditionally, the winners of the Cup held the trophy until the following year’s presentation, while recently the trophy is usually taken on publicity tours by the FA in between finals.
This trophy consists of three parts which come separately – the cup itself, with the additional lid and base. Even though it is known that there were two designs of the trophy in use, five physical trophies have been presented in this long period of the tournament. The original trophy was made by Martin, Hall & Co and it was 18 inches high. The “little tin idol” as it was called, was stolen in 1895 and never recovered. It was replaced by an exact replica which was used until 1910 when the FA decided to change the design. This was after the 1909 winners, Manchester United, made their own replica of the trophy which made the FA realise they did not own the copyright.
The new and larger design was made by Fattorini and Sons, and it was used ever since 1911. However, to preserve the original trophy, the FA replaced it from 1992 with an exact replica. However, the replica was not good enough to withstand the increased handling which is why the third replica was presented in 2014. Until today only the 1895 replica has entered private ownership.