For over 150 years, the English FA Cup has been played and betting on the FA Cup is a favourite among punters. It is by far the most beautiful tournament in the world. Full of charm, fight and many great winners.
England is, of course, the birthplace of football. Back in 1863, the Football Association, the English Football Association, was founded. Eight years after its formation, FA secretary Charles W. Alcock felt that
“it is desirable that a League Cup be established in conjunction with the Association for which all clubs belonging to the Association are invited to participate.”
The first FA Cup was launched in November of 1871. Incidentally, some 17 years before the first football league was established in England.
On 16 March 1872, Wanderers FC from Leytonstone were the first cup winners. Remarkably, Wanderers’ captain was a certain Charles W. Alcock. Right, the one who had invented the FA Cup.
It was from the 1888-1889 season that the tournament took on a more formal shape with qualifying rounds. A change that to this day makes for more interesting odds when betting on FA Cup.
Between 1915 and 1919, the tournament was not played because of the First World War. A century ago, in 1923, the first final was at London’s Wembley Stadium.
Only between 2001 and 2006 was the final played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium because the new Wembley was being built at that time.
FA Cup format
Teams up to tenth place can take part in the English cup competition. This is of course unique and immediately shows the charm of the FA Cup.
The advantage for smaller clubs is that their cash registers ring as soon as they are drawn against a big club like Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal. This means full stadiums as well as TV revenues. In addition, it offers interesting betting markets for those betting on the FA Cup. Think of total goals scored, goal scorers, first goal scorer, etc.
Historically, clubs from Wales have also frequently competed, such as Swansea City and Cardiff City. The latter club even won the tournament as the only non-English club in 1927. Scottish clubs have also participated, until it was banned by the Scottish Football Association.
In its current form, the FA Cup consists of 14 possible rounds. First, there is a qualifying competition in which the smallest clubs can compete for a place in the first preliminary round. In the preliminary round, clubs from the ninth and tenth tiers enter. Until the sixth preliminary round, the tournament is further completed with clubs from level eight to five. The draw is regional, though, so that clubs do not incur too many travel expenses.
From the First Round to the Final
In November, the first round of the FA Cup starts and betting on the FA Cup can begin. 32 teams from the preliminary rounds and 48 clubs from Levels 3 and 4 (EFL League One and Two) particpate. In the third round in January, clubs from the Championship and Premier League finally enter.
Then there will be a fourth round, fifth round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. Incidentally, there is no ‘protection’ for clubs from the first round onwards: anyone can draw against anyone. Something that greatly appeals to us, and which fans of smaller clubs eagerly await every year. Up to and including the quarter-finals, a replay is played in case of a draw to determine the winner.
Most successful clubs and players in FA Cup
In England, there are two clubs that stand out above the rest. The most successful club in the FA Cup is Arsenal.
The London club won the tournament 14 times (in 21 finals). Seven of those titles Arsenal won under the leadership of Arsène Wenger, between 1997 and 2017. Manchester United follows with 12 wins, including five with Sir Alex Ferguson as coach.
This is followed by a gap to a number of other successful clubs. Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur won the FA Cup eight times. For Spurs, however, the last one dates back to 1991. Chelsea could have been higher, but they lost the 2020, 2021 and 2022 finals. Painful reminder for Chelsea fans betting on FA Cup final wins.
Manchester City have been gaining momentum since they have grown enormously as a club over the past 20 years. With six wins, they are one behind Aston Villa and on a par with Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers.
Arsène Wenger and Ashley Cole
First-time winner Wanderers FC’s with five consecutive wins is a unique achievement in FA history. Indeed, they won their five FA Cups in seven years and never lost a final. Then again, they never reached a final after 1878 either.
The most successful coach in the FA Cup (Arsène Wenger) also had the most successful player under his charge. Ashley Cole won the FA Cup three times with Arsenal and then four times with Chelsea. In addition, of course, he also had one Dennis Bergkamp in the ranks
The top scorer for a single FA Cup was Jimmy Ross, but that was still in the 19th century. Indeed, he scored 19 times in seven games in the 1887-1888 FA Cup. Eight of those goals came in the first round against Hyde. With Preston North End, he won 26-0, also a record. The kind of stats you wouldn’t even dare think about when betting on the FA Cup.
The FA Cup is renowned for its giant-killing upsets, where lower-tier teams defeat higher-tier opponents, creating memorable underdog stories.
The record for the most FA Cup victories is held by Arsenal, a club that has won the competition multiple times (14 at the time of writing in 2023), making them a significant betting consideration.
Rivalries like the North West Derby between Liverpool and Everton intensify FA Cup encounters, attracting fans and impacting betting markets.
Clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur have rich histories and significant FA Cup triumphs.
Comebacks, like Liverpool’s comeback against West Ham in 2006, create dramatic narratives that resonate with fans and bettors alike.