The FA Cup first round kicks off on Friday night, and despite its long existence (it was first competed for back in 1871), it still retains it’s magic.
The FA Cup is a viable opportunity for lower-league clubs to gain some vital revenue. The money gained from a non-league club progressing to the second, or third round, or even getting a well-supported League One side in the draw, provides stability for the club for years. If a non-league club was to draw a decent League One side away in the first round of the FA Cup, and if such game was televised, then they could expect revenues of between £150k-200k, before the game even kicks off.
Progression in the cup, and cup runs, go down in folklore. Ronnie Radford, THAT Crazy Gang side and Sunderland’s victory over Leeds in 1973 are all examples of cup upsets that are still remembered today, well after the final whistle blows. A good cup run can make or break a season for a lower-league club (take Bradford’s League Cup run in 2013, bringing in an estimated £2.5 million to the Bantams), with knock-on effects felt for years to come.
For example, take any League Two club, and picture that they qualified for the FA Cup Third Round. In getting this far, they would already have received around £100k in prize money, plus gate receipts, so have benefitted to the tune of roughly £200,000 by the time their ball (well, square) enters the pot for the FA Cup Third Round Draw. If this club was fortunate enough to draw a medium-sized Premier League side away (for example, West Ham), then their profits would rocket. TV revenues and gate receipts could give them a potential £300k windfall, and victory in the Third Round would add £100k prize money to this pot.
Followed up by another away draw at another mid-table Premier League side (say, Southampton), and another £100k in TV revenue, and £250k in gate receipts are in order. Even defeat in this game would leave them with a profit of close to £1 million from one cup run.
4 games. A potential of a £1 million bonus. That’s the impact a good cup run could have on a smaller side. Add to this increased support, and the money gained from the Cup is enough to maintain stability, improve the squad, and push for promotion, for several seasons, increasing the club’s reputation, and therefore increasing advertising revenues, and income.
80 teams will compete this weekend to continue their progression in the FA Cup. All of them will be wanting to be the club that goes on a cup run, like the one described above.