The FA Cup Factfile blog suggests introducing Championship clubs a round earlier, which would have a knock-on effect for non-League clubs
26 October ~ The FA Cup Factfile blog has come up with a proposal to increase the number of non-League clubs who reach the FA Cup first round. This would allow a greater number of non-League v League matches, would allow more teams to enter the competition and reinvigorate the competition as a whole.
Currently 644 non-League clubs enter the tournament each year, yet just 32 of them qualify for the first round, meaning 95 per cent of non-League clubs have been eliminated before a single League club has taken part. Meanwhile only 82 step six clubs are allowed to participate each year, despite many more being eligible.
The FA Cup Factfile has two man proposals to improve this situation. The first is that Championship clubs should enter at the second-round stage rather than the third, as they currently do. This would mean that 44 clubs would have to qualify for the third round, instead of 20, so the second round would require 88 clubs.
The knock-on effect is that 64 clubs outside the Championship would need to qualify from the first round, which would now require 128 teams – 48 League One and Two clubs plus 80 from non-League, an increase of 48.
The above proposal means that all National League clubs, rather than just the top tier, could be exempt from the competition until the fourth qualifying round. The overall benefit of this is that 50 more step six clubs could enter the FA Cup. This, the blog argues, would give more non-League clubs the chance to appear in the “proper” rounds, greater opportunities for upsets and more excitement in general.
Photo by Simon Gill/WSC Photography: Fans watch Chasetown’s 1-1 draw against Oldham Athletic at the Scholar Ground in the FA Cup first round on November 6, 2005