If you’re looking for the FA Cup TV schedule for fans in the United States, you’ve come to the right place.
ESPN is the holder of US media rights for the FA Cup as of 2023. The agreement will bring 79 FA Cup matches exclusively to ESPN+. This includes games starting in the first round proper in November right up through the Final.
None of the games have been shown on television as of yet since ESPN took over the rights. However ESPN does often simulcast select LaLiga and Bundesliga games to their TV outlets in addition to streaming on ESPN+. So there is always a chance that a marquee matchup in the late stages of the competition could end up on a channel such as ESPN2 or ESPN Deportes.
Third Round coverage of the tournament usually begins in early January each year.
Watch the FA Cup on ESPN+:
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FA Cup TV schedule
All times Eastern
Wednesday, February 28
- 02:30 PM ET
- 02:45 PM ET
- 02:45 PM ET
- 03:00 PM ET
FA Cup format
The FA Cup, officially the Football Association Challenge Cup, was first played in 1871/72, making it the oldest national football competition in the world.
Hundreds of clubs take part each year from the English league system – all the way down to levels 9 and 10 on the pyramid. Tiny non-league sides start in the qualifying rounds, but can advance all the way to face giants from the Premier League. Matchups for each round are randomly drawn, with higher-level teams entering at later stages of the competition. The competition is a single-elimination knockout tournament. Earlier rounds see matches that are drawn replayed at a later date, at the opposite home ground, instead of going to penalty kicks.
The winners of the competition earn a place in the following season’s UEFA Europa League.
The final of the FA Cup is played at a neutral site – almost always Wembley Stadium in London. The only exceptions are when Wembley has undergone renovations, such as from 2001-2006 when the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff hosted the game. Since 2008, the semifinals are also exclusively played at Wembley.
FA Cup history
The Football Association Challenge Cup, better known as the FA Cup, has been around longer than any other soccer tournament. Out of all the events and leagues that are still going strong today, it is the oldest.
This legendary competition has been a thread in the fabric of history since its start. Known as the “founding father” of organized soccer both domestically and internationally, it laid the groundwork for a more structured game.
The unanticipated magic, passion, and drama that are hallmarks of the beautiful game have been on display. From the sacred turf of English soccer, the FA Cup has seen many thrilling moments, heart-stopping shocks, and heroic performances. Because of its very definition, the FA Cup is rife with tradition.
As an example, underdogs may face up against Premier League heavyweights in the early rounds. They have even managed to pull off shocking results on many occasions.
The idea behind the FA Cup
In 1870, the idea of a national championship gained momentum when teams were authorized to travel. FA secretary Charles Alcock proposed the concept.
He envisioned a tournament that would be similar to the inter-house matches he played in during his time at Harrow School. He wanted to replicate the system of lowering the number of teams each round by elimination.
The revered Freemasons’ Tavern in London was the birthplace of the FA Cup on July 20, 1871. The idea for a soccer competition came from a group of forward-thinking fans. By doing so, they hoped to promote the then-emerging sport of soccer and encourage team spirit among participating teams.
With a quick vote, the knockout competition’s regulations were confirmed. Afterward, invitations were sent out to the 60 clubs that were members of The FA at that time. But only 15 teams actually took the time to reply.
As more teams pulled out, just around 12 remained for a tournament that only had 13 games. On November 11, 1871, the first set of matches was played.
How FA Cup came to be
On March 16, 1872, the Royal Engineers and Wanderers FC met in the championship match at Kennington Oval. Charles W. Alcock was a member of the second group, which consisted mostly of former students from public institutions like Harrow.
Little did they realize that their contest, which still goes on over 150 years later, would evolve into the most esteemed knockout cup in English soccer. The man who was instrumental in creating the Challenge Cup was rightfully a part of the winning team and among the first to hoist the trophy.
To mark the triumph, the FA issued silk badges to each player, while the club awarded gold medals. In 2010, the PFA paid around $90,000 at auction for the only surviving medal. Beyond its athletic context, the FA Cup tells a tale of social stratification, industrialization, workers’ rights, and the north-south split.
Once introduced to the country’s public schools, soccer quickly gained the embrace of the urban working classes, helping cultivate a strong sense of community pride.
Popularity and growth
With the victory under their belts, Wanderers were automatically qualified to participate in the first “challenge cup” tournament the following year. However, that regulation was only going to be in effect for this one year.
The introduction of legally recognized professionals in 1885 marked the next major shift in the game. Professionalism helped push forward a change in the game’s pivot point.
The more serious northern teams swiftly surpassed their more casual southern counterparts, thanks to the hard work and dedication of their players. The outcome of it was the formation of the Football League in 1888. However, up until then, the FA Cup Final had been the high point of the season.
At that point in time, the cup had surpassed all other English silverware in desirability. It symbolized the brave, and unexpected aspiration to defeat the soccer behemoths.
The 1888-1889 season saw the introduction of qualifying rounds. This allowed more clubs from all around the country to compete for the cup. This expanded the tournament beyond the elite and brought teams from all walks of life closer together.
New era at Wembley
Wembley Stadium became the permanent home of the FA Cup Final in 1923, beginning a new chapter in its history. The legendary stadium saw some of the most thrilling cup finals in English soccer history and came to symbolize the sport as a whole. An enduring reminder of the cup’s magnetism is the 1923 “White Horse Final,” so called because a police horse cleared the packed pitch.
To keep up with the ever-changing soccer scene, the FA Cup has gone through a number of structural alterations throughout the years. Broadcasts of the tournament on television, which began in the middle of the twentieth century, greatly increased its prestige.
It wasn’t until 1970 that women finally had their chance. 300 clubs competed in the Women’s FA Challenge Cup Competition, the highest level of competitive women’s soccer in England at the time.
There is an additional element of thrill and surprise to the tournament due to the ‘Giant Killing’ phenomenon, in which lesser teams beat more famous opponents. As the twentieth century came to a close, the FA Cup became a major international event. People from all around the globe flocked to the tournament to watch and cheer on the participants.
Challenges and modern times
Even though it has endured for a long time, the FA Cup has faced several difficulties. On occasion, the event has been overshadowed by the emergence of lucrative European tournaments, the congestion of fixtures, and arguments over shifting the starting lineup. Nonetheless, the FA Cup has persevered over the years by adjusting to new circumstances while retaining its prestigious reputation.
Additional financial resources have been brought into the league via sponsorship arrangements, notably as the collaboration with Emirates in 2015. Similarly, the FA Cup has grown in prestige among Premier League teams. The tournament has given teams the opportunity to win trophies and cement their place in soccer lore.
Free FA Cup Schedule Resources
Courtesy of World Soccer Talk, download a complimentary copy of The Ultimate Soccer TV And Streaming Guide, which features details on where to watch all of the leagues from around the world on US TV and streaming.
To find out when soccer games are on, download the free Soccer TV Schedules App which includes listings of all of the live soccer matches available in the United States (available on Apple iOS devices and Android devices).
Do you have any questions about the FA Cup TV schedule? Let us know in the comments section below.
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