The long road to the FA Cup Final at Wembley gets underway on August 11 when 368 non-league clubs kick-off this season’s competition.
A total of 736 clubs have entered the 2018/19 FA Cup, although only a handful hold a realistic chance of lifting the famous trophy next May.
Eighteen clubs will make their FA Cup debuts this term, with all of them entering the competition in its preliminary stage. Read on as we look at some of the main talking points about football’s greatest knockout competition.
The ‘Magic of the Cup’ isn’t a myth
Throughout the history of the FA Cup there have been examples of smaller clubs knocking out some of the country’s biggest sides.
Hereford United’s 2-1 victory over Newcastle United in 1972 is one famous example, while Arsenal’s defeat against Wrexham in 1992 was another huge embarrassment for a big club.
Fast forward to 2017 and proof that the ‘Magic of the Cup’ still exists was highlighted perfectly by Lincoln City, who became the first non-league team to reach the quarter-finals in over a century when they knocked out Burnley.
The FA Cup can transform smaller clubs
While the top of the outright betting market with Betvision features many of the country’s top sides, the competition’s potential impact lower down the scale should not be underestimated.
Clubs like Exeter City, Burton Albion and Cambridge United have all benefited from being drawn against Manchester United in recent years, with the income from those ties transforming their fortunes.
That type of financial windfall is vital to lower level clubs and are a perfect example of why the FA Cup is so important.
The big clubs don’t always lift the trophy
Take a look at the list of winners of the FA Cup and it is littered with some major surprises.
Sunderland (1973), Southampton (1976) and Ipswich Town (1978) are amongst the biggest shocks in the competition’s history, but there has been plenty of other unexpected winners since then.
Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’ defeating Liverpool in 1988 is one of the FA Cup’s most iconic moments, while the likes of Portsmouth (2008) and Wigan Athletic (2013) also showed that dreams can come true for smaller clubs.
The FA Cup can save a season
The FA Cup is as popular as ever, with BT Sports and the BBC sharing the rights and allowing viewers to watch the FA Cup live online as well.
Winning the league title remains the number one aim for the big clubs, but an FA Cup victory can help to save what may otherwise have been a disappointing season.
Chelsea finished fifth in the Premier League in 2018, but their success against Manchester United in the FA Cup Final put a different slant on their season.
While the Premier League provides clubs with huge levels of income, winning silverware is important to fans and that is why the FA Cup is still a hugely prestigious trophy.