Do Premier League teams play in the FA Cup?

The FA Cup is one of the most historic football competitions in the world, having first been hosted in 1871 and featuring over 700 teams in England and Wales. So do Premier League teams play in this competition? 

Do Premier League teams play in the FA Cup? Yes, Premier League teams do play in the FA Cup. They enter the competition in the third round along with the teams from the Championship.

Teams in the Premier League are very often the teams that end up winning the FA Cup. This is hardly surprising when you consider that they ended up in the Premier League thanks to being one of the 20 best teams in the Football League. As the FA Cup features over 700 teams, Premier League teams do not have to enter the competition straight away. 

Premier League teams enter the FA Cup in the Third Round of the competition proper. The third round is really the ninth round of the FA Cup when you also consider the qualifying competition which features clubs from Level 5 down to Level 10. The professional teams enter the competition starting in the first round with League One and Two teams. 

Quite often Premier League teams will begin the FA Cup by rotating their teams, particularly when they are playing lesser competition. But by the quarter-finals, teams will be using their strongest line-ups and will be wanting to win the competition. Premier League teams see the FA Cup as a major trophy and all teams head into the tournament wanting to win it. 

How many Premier League teams are in the FA Cup? 

All 20 Premier League teams automatically qualify for the FA Cup. This is simply because they are already in the Premier League and it would be unfair to pit semi-professional or even amateur teams against Premier League teams who are spending millions and millions on transfers. 

Premier League teams automatically qualify for the FA Cup Third Round. 

Has a non-Premier League team ever won the FA Cup? 

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, there has never been an FA Cup winner come from outside the Premier League. However, there have been eight teams to lift the FA Cup while outside the Old First Division which is the league that was rebranded as the Premier League. 

Notts County were the first team outside of the top flight to win the FA Cup when they did it in 1894. Tottenham weren’t even in the Second Division when they won the FA Cup in 1901, they were in the Southern League and did not make it to the Football League until seven years after their FA Cup triumph.

Wolves and Barnsley added their names to the list in 1908 and 1912 respectively. West Brom lifted the Cup while in the Second Division in 1931. Sunderland, Southampton and West Ham are the three most recent teams to lift the FA Cup while outside the top flight, doing so in 1973,1976 and 1980. 

Who was the last non-top-flight team to win the FA Cup? 

West Ham are the last team to win the FA Cup while not holding a place in the top flight of English football. In 1980 West Ham were a good side in the Second Division of English Football, finishing the season in seventh, two points behind London rivals Luton Town and Queens Park Rangers. 

However, they had a lot more success in the FA Cup. The Hammers began their competition by beating West Brom in a replay, the first First Division team they would beat on this run. They beat fellow Second Division team Orient 3-2 to progress to the Fifth Round where they beat another Second Division team in Swansea. 

The competition got more difficult for West Ham in the Sixth Round where they faced Aston Villa who were pushing for European Football in the First Division. But a close encounter was separated by a Ray Stewart penalty that sent West Ham to the Semi-Final where they would face Everton. 

Things were all square after two games so it went to added time and Frank Lampard Sr. scored the winner to send the London side to the Final where they faced reigning champions Arsenal. The Gunners were the favourites to add another FA Cup to their trophy cabinet. 

But the final was a much closer affair than many thought it would be. Arsenal could not break through the Hammer’s defence and Trevor Brooking scored the winner to win his second FA Cup. 

Has a relegated team ever won the FA Cup?

Wigan are the only team to have won the FA Cup in the same season that they were relegated. Wigans’ 2012-13 season was one of the strangest seasons we have ever seen from a Premier League team. Wigan were pretty bad in the League which included failing to win a game in September, January or April. 

Wigan were constantly near the bottom of the table and their fate was sealed when they lost 4-1 to Arsenal on the 14th of May. What was most incredible about that result was that it came three days after Wigan had been in the FA Cup Final. Despite being terrible in the Premier League, Wigan reached the FA Cup Final. 

Wigan’s closest game was a Third Round Replay against Bournemouth which they won 1-0 thanks to a Mauro Boselli winner. Wigan were fortunate with two good draws in the next two rounds, defeating non-Premier League teams in the Fourth and Fifth Round and many thought they would fall to Everton in the Sixth Round at Goodison Park. 

Despite losing to Everton in December, Wigan beat them 3-0 thanks to three goals in four minutes. They were again away from home in the Semi-Final but were able to get another non-Premier League draw, beating Millwall 2-0. 

In the Final, they came up against Manchester City who they had lost to 1-0 less than a month before the Final. Wigan were able to defeat the Premier League runners-up 1-0 thanks to a 91st-minute winner from Ben Watson as Wigan claimed the FA Cup just three days before they would be relegated from the Premier League. 


Life long Portsmouth Fan and have followed football since 1993. Is there a better sport on earth?

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