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|Dates||31 August 2020 – 15 May 2021|
|Number of teams||736 (all)|
644 (qualifying competition)
124 (main competition)
The 2020–21 FA Cup (also known as the Football Association Challenge Cup) is the 140th edition of the oldest football tournament in the world. It is sponsored by Emirates and known as The Emirates FA Cup for sponsorship purposes. The winner qualifies for the 2021-22 UEFA Europa League.
The FA Cup is a knockout competition with 124 teams taking part all trying to reach the Final at Wembley in May 2021. The competition consists of the 92 teams from the Football League system. (20 teams from the Premier League and the 72 in total from the EFL Championship, EFL League One and EFL League Two) plus the 32 surviving teams out of 644 teams from the National League System (levels 5–10 of the English Football League System) that started the competition in qualifying rounds.
All rounds are drawn randomly usually either at the completion of the previous round or on the evening of the last televised game of a round being played depending on television broadcasting rights.
This year the competition could be subject to changes to the rules and round dates etc at short notice due to following latest national and local government guidelines because of the COVID-19 pandemic in England.
|Round||Main Date||Number of Fixtures||Clubs Remaining||New Entries This Round||Prize Money Winner||Prize Money Loser||Leagues Entering This Round|
|First Round Proper||Saturday 7 November 2020||40||124 → 84||48||£22,629||None||24 EFL League One teams |
24 EFL League Two teams
|Second Round Proper||Saturday 28 November 2020||20||84 → 64||None||£34,000||None||None|
|Third Round Proper||Saturday 9 January 2021||32||64 → 32||44||£82,000||None||20 Premier League teams |
24 EFL Championship teams
|Fourth Round Proper||Saturday 23 January 2021||16||32 → 16||None||£90,000||None||None|
|Fifth Round Proper||Wednesday 10 February 2021||8||16 → 8||None||£180,000||None||None|
|Quarter-Finals||Saturday 20 March 2021||4||8 → 4||None||£360,000||None||None|
|Semi-Finals||Saturday 17 April 2021||2||4 → 2||None||£900,000||£450,000||None|
|Final||Saturday 15 May 2021||1||2 → 1||None||£1,800,000||£900,000||None|
Delay and scheduling
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom, the previous season's competition was delayed, with the final scheduled to be played roughly three months late, on 1 August 2020. In a normal year, the FA Cup would start in August, but with the previous season finishing late, the start of the 2020–21 FA Cup will also be delayed to 1 September 2020.
Contrary to initial specualtion that the 2020–21 FA Cup would be reduced in size, on 25 July 2020, the FA confirmed that lower league teams would be able to compete in the competition, with 736 places available (as in previous seasons) and 889 entrants. All eligible teams at step 5 of the National League System (and above) will be accepted into the competition, with the remaining places given to clubs at step 6. In previous seasons step 6 clubs have been given access to the Extra Preliminary Round based on their league position, but due to the cancellation of these leagues in 2019–20, the places for these teams will be allocated by a random draw instead.
Round and draw dates
Full dates and tournament rules are expected to be confirmed by the FA in the week of 3 August 2020, but planned dates for the qualifying rounds have been released to clubs in the National League System.
|Phase||Round||Draw date||Draw venue||First match date|
|Qualifying rounds||Extra Preliminary Round||18 August 2020||31 August 2020|
|Preliminary Round||12 September 2020|
|First Round Qualifying||14 September 2020||22 September 2020|
|Second Round Qualifying||25 September 2020||3 October 2020|
|Third Round Qualifying||13 October 2020|
|Fourth Round Qualifying||24 October 2020|
|Main tournament||First Round Proper||7 November 2020|
|Second Round Proper||28 November 2020|
|Third Round Proper||9 January 2021|
|Fourth Round Proper||23 January 2021|
|Fifth Round Proper||10 February 2021|
|Quarter-finals||20 March 2021|
|Semi-finals||17 April 2021|
|Final||15 May 2021|
To fit into a truncated schedule for the 2020–21 season, replays were removed from the competition. The prize fund has been reduced, with figures returning to those last used in the 2017–18 FA Cup.
- Main article: 2020–21 FA Cup qualifying rounds
All of the competing teams that are not members of either the Premier League or English Football League will compete in the qualifying rounds to secure one of 32 available places in the First Round Proper. The qualifying competition is scheduled to begin with the Extra Preliminary Round on 1 September 2020.
|Round||Fate||Number of Teams||Amount|
|Extra Preliminary Round||losers||184||£375|
|First Round Qualifying||losers||117||£750|
|Second Round Qualifying||losers||80||£1,125|
|Third Round Qualifying||losers||40||£1,875|
|Fourth Round Qualifying||losers||32||£3,125|
|First Round Proper||winners||40||£22,629|
|Second Round Proper||winners||20||£34,000|
|Third Round Proper||winners||32||£82,000|
|Fourth Round Proper||winners||16||£90,000|
|Fifth Round Proper||winners||8||£180,000|
|2020-21 FA Cup match days|