Women's FA Cup
|Number of teams||300 (2019–20)|
|Current champions||Manchester City (3rd title)|
|Most successful club(s)||Arsenal (14 titles)|
|Website||Women's FA Cup|
|2020–21 Women's FA Cup|
The Women's FA Challenge Cup Competition is the top annual cup tournament for women's clubs in English football. Founded in 1970, it has been named the WFA Cup, FA Women's Cup and now Women's FA Cup (Vitality Women's FA Cup for sponsorship reasons).
Designed as an equivalent to the FA Cup in men's football, the competition began in 1970–71 as the Mitre Challenge Trophy, organised by the Women's Football Association (WFA). There were 71 entrants, including teams from Scotland and Wales.
The WFA ran the competition for the first 23 editions, during which time Southampton Women's won the cup eight times. The Football Association (FA) began administrating English women's football in mid-1993.
Arsenal holds the record for most titles overall, having won fourteen times. The current cup holders are Manchester City, who defeated Everton 3–1, after extra time, in the final at Wembley Stadium on 1 November 2020.
As a Women's Football Association competition until 1992–93, it was known as the WFA Cup or more informally as the Women's FA Cup. After the running of the competition passed to the FA in 1993–94, the Association renamed it as the FA Women's Cup, until 2015. The name was officially reworded as the Women's FA Cup in June 2015, prior to that year's final. The tournament rules, as in the men's FA Cup, name it the Challenge Cup Competition.
Previous national cup competitions included the English Ladies Football Association Challenge Cup in 1922, won by Stoke Ladies.
The first women's Mitre Challenge Trophy final was held on 9 May 1971 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The WFA was initially named the Ladies Football Association of Great Britain, and Scottish clubs were successful in reaching the first three finals of this tournament. Two of these clubs were runners-up in England while also winning the Scottish Women's Cup in the same season, Stewarton Thistle in 1971 and Westthorn United in 1973.
Southampton Women's F.C. won eight of the first 11 WFA Cup competitions.
Doncaster Belles reached nearly every final between 1982–83 and 1993–94, and won the trophy six times.
The current entry points as of the 2019–20 season:
- the Second Qualifying round for FA Women's National League Division One teams (47 teams)
- the Second Round Proper for FA Women's National League North & South Premier Division teams (24 teams)
- the Fourth Round Proper for FA WSL and FA Women's Championship teams (33 teams)
All other clubs in the fifth tier or below are drawn to either play in the Extra Preliminary Round or have a bye to the Preliminary Round. After the initial preliminary rounds, there are three qualifying rounds before the First Round Proper. All rounds until the FA WSL and Championship teams enter in the Fourth Round are played on a geographical basis (north and south regions).
The original Mitre Challenge Trophy has "disappeared", according to the WFA History records. This cup was replaced in May 1979 when the Football Association donated a new trophy for the competition's winners, to mark the WFA's tenth anniversary.
1970–71 cup winner Sue Lopez said it was suspected that a player "tucked it away somewhere in a trophy cabinet", and she was trying to locate the original cup for the National Football Museum in 2015.
List of finals
- Finalists are primarily clubs from England, unless denoted with for Scotland.
- Where a season's Final is marked in bold, it has a specific article for the match.
Finalists by club
|Winning seasons||Runner-up |
|Arsenal||1992–93, 1994–95, 1997–98, 1998–99, 2000–01,
2003–04, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09,
2010–11, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2015–16
|Southampton Women's||1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1974–75, 1975–76,
1977–78, 1978–79, 1980–81
|Doncaster Belles||1982–83, 1986–87, 1987–88, 1989–90,
|1983–84, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1990–91, |
1992–93, 1999–2000, 2001–02
||1995–96, 1999–2000, 2004–05||1997–98, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2006–07|
|Manchester City||2016–17, 2018–19, 2019–20||—|
||1988–89, 2009–10||1987–88, 2004–05, 2013–14, 2019–20|
|Chelsea||2014–15, 2017–18||2011–12, 2015–16|
|Millwall Lionesses||1990–91, 1996–97||—|
|St Helens||1979–80||1980–81, 1982–83, 1986–87|
|Queen's Park Rangers||1976–77||1975–76, 1977–78|
|Friends of Fulham||1984–85||1988–89, 1989–90|
||—||1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96|
|Stewarton & Thistle/
|Red Star Southampton/
|Leeds United||—||2005–06, 2007–08|
|Bristol Academy||—||2010–11, 2012–13|
|Preston North End||—||1979–80|
|West Ham United||—||2018–19|
The Cup winner competed against the FA Women's Premier League National Division champions in the annual FA Women's Community Shield match from 2000 until 2008, and against the FA WSL winners since 2020.
Between 2001 and 2008 the final of the tournament was covered by BBC TV, presented by Celina Hinchcliffe, Rebecca Lowe, Ray Stubbs and Jake Humphrey, the punditry team was usually current players like Sue Scott and commentary usually by Steve Wilson and Lucy Ward or Faye White and always played on May Day Bank Holiday. The final was also simulcast on BBC Radio Five Live. In 2009 the final was moved to ITV1 with commentary from Jon Champion and Lucy Ward. Sky Sports secured a three-year deal for live coverage from 2010 until 2012.
In the FA competition, the sponsors have been UK Living (1995–1998), AXA (1998–2002), Nationwide Building Society (2002–2006) and E.ON (2006–2011). From 2007, Tesco obtained additional branding and advertising rights through their partnership agreement with the FA.
Despite sponsorship by these major companies, entering the tournament has actually cost clubs more than they often get in prize money. In 2015 it was reported that even if Notts County had won the tournament outright the paltry £8,600 winnings would leave them out of pocket. The winners of the men's FA Cup in the same year received £1.8 million, with teams not even reaching the first round proper getting more than the women's winners. In September 2020, the FA announced that health and life insurance and investment company VitalityHealth have signed a deal to become the sponsor of the competition until July 2023.
- Title of "Rules: Women's FA Cup rules" (PDF) on "The Vitality Women's FA Cup - Women's - Competitions". The Football Association. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "Women's FA Cup final: 40,000 tickets sold for Wembley showpiece". BBC Sport. 1 May 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
- "Relive both Women's FA Cup semi-finals". BBC Sport. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
- Association, The Football. "The website for the English football association, the Emirates FA Cup and the England football team". www.thefa.com. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
- "Women's FA Cup: The history". BBC Sport. 1 May 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "Women's Football Competitions Fact Sheet" (PDF). Football Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
- Henry Winter (26 April 1993). "Football: FA forging links to create a permanent partnership: Henry Winter reports on the interest created by the women's FA Cup final in which Arsenal defeated Doncaster Belles 3–0". The Independent. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
- Tony Leighton (2 May 2010). "England dug-out duo become rivals in FA Women's Cup final at Nottingham". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "The WFA Cup". History of the Women's Football Association. 29 April 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- Examples of use in 1993:
"■ FA SUNDAY CUP". Sandwell Evening Mail. 19 November 1993. p. 69. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
"Derby day for ladies". Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush Gazette. 3 December 1993. p. 73. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "The FA Women's Cup (2004)". The Football Association. Archived from the original on 2 April 2004. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- Examples in 2011 and 2014:
Leighton, Tony (21 May 2011). "Arsenal reclaim FA Women's Cup with win over Bristol Academy". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
"FA Cup final (2014)". Arsenal F.C. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- Examples in 2015:
"The FA Women's Cup (10 April 2015)". The Football Association. Archived from the original on 10 April 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
"Chelsea secure FA Women's Cup final Wembley date with Notts County". The Football Association. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "The FA and SSE agree sponsorship deal". The Football Association. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "SSE Women's FA Cup Final match report (1 Aug 2015)". The Football Association. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "SSE Women's FA Cup Final (14 May 2016)". The Football Association. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
- "Women's FA Cup: Mystery of missing trophy from first final". BBC Sport. 29 July 2015.
- FA Women's Cup Final comes to Wembley in August
- "England – List of Women Cup Winners". RSSSF. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- Slegg, Chris; Gregory, Patricia (6 May 2021). A History of the Women's FA Cup Final. The History Press. ISBN 978-0750996594. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
- "Cambuslang Hooverettes".
- Norwich Evening News, May 26, 2016, page 12
- Lavery, Glenn (3 May 2010). "Late drama as Dowie downs Arsenal – ARSENAL LFC v EVERTON LFC – 03/05/2010". TheFA.com. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- "Arsenal complete 11th cup final win". Shekicks.net. 21 May 2011. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- "Fact Sheet 5: Women and Football". University of Leicester. March 2002. Archived from the original on 12 September 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
- Joan Ruddock (29 April 1991). "MILLWALL LIONESSES FA CUP VICTORY". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- "Community Shield for Sky Sports". TheFA.com. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
- "FA announces new Cup sponsorship". BBC News. 3 February 2006. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 August 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Football Association Joins Forces With Tesco". Sportbusiness.com. Archived from the original on 3 July 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- BBC article on the sponsorship situation
- Prize money list on the FA website
- "Vitality becomes new sponsor of Women's FA Cup for next three years". The Football Association. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2020.