Updated: 4th February 2020
The FA Cup competition is pretty unique in its size and the potential for ‘giant killer’ situations to take place. This is where a small, non-league with tiny grounds and hardly any supporters play a Premier League club with a global fan base…and win! For more information on the final, check out our FA Cup final guide.How does the FA Cup work?
The FA Cup works in two parts: qualifying and ‘proper’, with eligible teams being paired up at random. In the six qualifying rounds, teams are drawn against each other based on their location. The reason for this is to reduce travel costs for the smaller clubs which play in the early stages.
After the qualification rounds, we get into the competition proper. At this stage, numbered balls are placed in a spinning bowl. The numbers represent a team in the competition, with numbers given out in alphabetical order from 1-48. The winners from the Fourth Qualifying Round receive a number from 49 as they come through, rather than in alphabetical order. However, teams which get through to the Quarter-Finals receive new numbers based on how they were drawn in the Fifth Round.
You’ve probably caught an FA Cup draw on the TV at some point. It’s where (usually) an ex-footballer picks out one ball at a time. The team whose ball is taken out first in each pairing, plays their match at home to the team whose number is taken out second.How many rounds are in the FA Cup?
There are a total of 14 rounds in the FA Cup: 6 qualifying rounds which are followed by 6 “proper” rounds and then finished up with the semi-finals and the final. 32 winners from the Fourth Qualifying Round advance to the First Round Proper, where 48 teams from League One (Level 3) and League Two (Level 4) of English football, operating in the English Football League, enter the competition. Top teams, like those from the Premier League enter at the Third Round Proper, at which point there are 64 teams remaining in the competition.
We’ll take a closer look at the different rounds that make up the FA Cup later on in this guide. Or you can head there now.How many teams play in the FA Cup?
It’s pretty much an open door scenario when it comes to the FA Cup. The tournament is open to any eligible club from the top 10 tiers of the English football league system. That includes the 92 professional clubs in the Premier League (Level 1) and the English Football League (Levels 2 to 4), as well as several hundred “non-league” teams from the National League System (Levels 5 to 10). This year, 736 teams took part overall with 644 taking part in the qualifying competition and 124 teams playing in the main competition. The record number of teams competing was a whopping 763 in 2011/12.Do FA Cup winners qualify for the Champion’s League or Europa League?
Winning the FA Cup means that the team qualifies for the following season’s UEFA Europa League, entering at the group stage. Previously, they were entered into the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup but that no longer exists. One of the cool things about this European qualification is that it still stands, even if the team is relegated or isn’t in the English top flight.What is the FA Cup prize money?
The FA Cup prize money for the 2018/19 season has doubled from the £13 million available in the previous season, meaning that even those who are knocked out in the preliminary rounds will see some financial reward. Here’s a breakdown of how the FA Cup prize money will be allocated:
|Extra Preliminary Round winners (184)||£2,250||Losers receive £750|
|Preliminary Round winners (160)||£2,890||Losers receive £960|
|First Round Qualifying winners (116)||£6,000|
|Second Round Qualifying winners (80)||£9,000|
|Third Round Qualifying winners (40)||£15,000|
|Fourth Round Qualifying winners (32)||£25,000|
|First Round Proper winners (40)||£36,000|
|Second Round Proper winners (20)||£54,000|
|Third Round Proper winners (32)||£135,000|
|Fourth Round Proper winners (16)||£180,000|
|Fifth Round Proper winners (8)||£360,000|
|Quarter-Final winners (4)||£720,000|
|Semi-Final winners (2)||£1,800,000|
|Semi-Final losers (2)||£900,000|
|Final runners-up (1)||£1,800,000|
|Final winners (1)||£3,600,000|
(The numbers in brackets show the how many teams are paid in that round) When to start betting on the FA Cup
Because the FA Cup is a season-long competition, there are a lot of opportunities for you to start betting. But when it the best time to jump on those FA Cup odds? That really depends on you.
The competition is always a viable source of bets, if you’re willing to put money on smaller teams. However, if you have little knowledge of non-league and lower league football, you might prefer to wait until the bigger teams join in Round 3 before starting your FA Cup betting.
The FA Cup winner odds will be better the earlier you look, but with 700+ teams taking part in the preliminary rounds, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll make it through to the final. The FA Cup winner odds will shorten as we approach the Final.
OddsMonkey Premium members can stay up-to-date with the latest FA Cup info, odds and offers with OddsMatcher and over in our matched betting forum.What bets should I place?
That’s completely up to you! And there are so many different types of bet to choose from in this competition. For example, betting markets for the FA Cup include: individual matches, outright cup winners, scores and goal scorers. But with so many options, how do you know which bets to place?
If you’re thinking at betting on the outright winner, for example, you could look at the top teams in the Premier League and see how their form has been this season. Of course, odds are also a fair indicator of how a team is expected to perform, so you could look at what the bookmakers are saying. Or, for individual matches, it might be worth carrying out some research of your own. You could take a look at a team’s previous cup performance, especially if you’re betting on a smaller team early on in the competition.
However, there’s another way you could look at making money when betting on the FA Cup. With matched betting you can extract value from bookmakers’ offers and turn free bets into real money. OddsMonkey Premium members get access to all the latest FA Cup offers, tools like the OddsMatcher and 1 to 1 support.FA Cup round guide
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the FA Cup qualifying rounds and the ‘proper’ rounds what happens in each. We’ll also touch on the FA Cup draw dates and a ..
|Stage||Round||Draw Date||First Match Date|
|Qualifying rounds||Extra Preliminary Round||July 6th 2019||August 10th 2019|
|Preliminary Round||August 24th 2019|
|First Round Qualifying||August 28th 2019||September 7th 2019|
|Second Round Qualifying||September 10th 2019||September 21st 2019|
|Third Round Qualifying||September 24th 2019||October 5th 2019|
|Fourth Round Qualifying||October 8th 2019||October 19th 2019|
|Main Tournament||First Round Proper||October 21st 2019||November 9th 2019|
|Second Round Proper||November 11th 2019||November 30th 2019|
|Third Round Proper||December 2nd 2019||January 4th 2020|
|Fourth Round Proper||January 6th 2020||January 25th 2020|
|Fifth Round Proper||January 27th 2020||March 4th 2020|
|Quarter-Finals||March 4th 2020||March 21st 2020|
|Semi-Finals||March 22nd 2020||April 18-19th 2020|
|Final||May 23rd 2020|
|Round||Main Date||Number of Fixtures||Clubs Remaining|
|Extra Preliminary Round||August 11th 2019||184||736 → 552|
|Preliminary Round||25 August 2019||160||552 → 392|
|First Qualifying Round||8 September 2019||116||392 → 276|
|Second Qualifying Round||22 September 2019||80||276 → 196|
|Third Qualifying Round||6 October 2019||40||196 → 156|
|Fourth Qualifying Round||20 October 2019||32||156 → 124|
Let’s start with the FA qualifying rounds, including the FA Cup draw dates…Extra Preliminary Round
The Extra Preliminary Round draw was held on July 12th 2019, with fixtures for the 2019/20 season played on August 10th, 11th and 12th 2019. 368 teams entered the competition at this stage, coming from levels 8-10 of English football.Preliminary Round
Also taking place on July 12th 2019 was the draw for the Preliminary Round. Fixtures were played from August 24th-27th 2019. Joining the 184 winners from the Extra Preliminary Round were 136 teams from levels 7 and 8 of English football, meaning 320 teams took part in this stage of the competition.First Qualifying Round
The FA Cup 1st qualifying round draw was held on August 27th 2019 and fixtures were played on September 7th, 8th and 9th 2019. 232 teams took part in this stage of the competition, including the 160 winners from the Preliminary Round. 72 teams also entered the FA Cup 1st qualifying round draw from the four leagues at Level 7 of English football.Second Qualifying Round
The FA Cup 2nd qualifying round draw took place on September 9th 2019, with 160 teams taking part at this stage. Fixtures were played on September 21st and 22nd 2019. The 116 winners from the First Qualifying Round were joined by 44 more from the two leagues at Level 6 of English football. Third Qualifying Round
September 23rd 2019 saw the FA Cup 3rd qualifying round draw take place. Fixtures were played on October 5th 2019, with the 80 winning teams from the Second Qualifying Round taking part. No additional teams entered at this stage.Fourth Qualifying Round
The FA Cup 4th qualifying round draw was held on October 7th 2019, with fixtures played on the 20th of that month. 64 teams took part in this qualifying round: the 40 winners from the Third Qualifying Round and the 24 members of the National League (representing Level 5 of English football).First Round
The FA Cup 1st round draw took place on October 21st 2019. All 40 First Round Proper ties were to be played on the weekend of 8th November with 13 replays to be played on 20 and 21 November. 32 teams from the qualifying competition joined 48 teams from League One and League Two to compete in this round.Second Round
The FA Cup 2nd round draw took place on November 11th 2019. The 40 winners of the First Round Proper played on weekend of November 29th 2019. The lowest-ranked teams still in the competition at this stage were Guiseley, Slough Town, Southport, Stockport County and Woking (from Level 6 of English football).Third Round
The FA Cup 3rd round draw was held on December 2nd 2019. 64 clubs took part in the Third Round Proper with the ties taking place from January 3rd-6th 2020. The 20 winners of the Second Round Proper were joined by 44 teams from the Premier League and EFL Championship. Woking (Level 6) was the lowest-ranked team still in the competition at this stage.Fourth Round
Conducted by Carl Ikeme and Robbie Keane, the FA Cup 4th round draw took place on January 7th 2020. All 16 Fourth Round ties were played from January 25th-28th. Level 5 team, Barnet, was the lowest-ranking (and only non-League side) left in the competition at this stage.Fifth Round
The FA Cup 5th round draw was held on January 27th 2020., with matches played from February 15th-18th. This is the first season where extra time and penalties have replaced replays as the method for resolving a drawn tie at this stage.Quarter-Final
The FA Cup quarter final draw will take place on March 4th 2020. Matches were played on the weekend of March 21st 2020. Semi-Final
The FA Cup semi-final will take place on 22nd March 2020. The matches will be played on April 18th and 19th respectively.Final
The Final will be played on 23rd May 2020 at Wembley Stadium.
If you’re thinking about betting on the FA Cup 2020, take a look at matched betting. You can find out more about it in our guide: What is Matched Betting?