Written by Ed Culham

Following the FA Cup and Women’s FA Cup finals over the weekend, we sat down with Account Executive Ed Culham to discuss why the competition is still as important and relevant as ever.

*Graphic designed by the SITA social team

An FA Cup Story

This short video was produced by the Football Association about a family that travelled 2,754 miles to watch each round of the FA Cup. Beginning last summer, three generations of the Evans family travelled the length of the country, following the winners of each tie.

Their journey started on August 7th 2021, when Norman, Robert and Samuel Evans travelled an initial 61 miles to watch Harborough Town FC beat Rothwell Corinthians 2-0. The Evans were then in attendance to see Harborough beaten by Biggleswade in the next round, giving them a new side to follow.

Robert mentioned his excitement when watching the draw, not knowing where they would be travelling to next. In following the competition from the preliminary rounds, it shows how the FA Cup includes teams and communities from all over the country and at all levels.

However, the story has a poignant side. While watching Walsall v King’s Lynn, 80-year-old Norman suffered a cardiac arrest, but thanks to the local emergency services he made a full recovery, miraculously in time to watch Walsall in the following round. Over 2,000 miles and 10 months later, they all witnessed Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties and lift the FA Cup at Wembley on Saturday.

As a piece of video content and story, it captured some of the major narratives that the FA Cup has come to embody in its 150 years – family, community, passion and grassroots football.

Partnering with the FA Cup

To celebrate 150 years of the competition, waste management firm, Veolia, produced a 105-metre long and 68-metre wide recycled banner, featuring the two FA Cup finalists’ badges, which was unfurled on the pitch before kick-off.

Using plastic collected from previous events at Wembley, over 45,000 plastic bottles were used to produce the banner, which will now be turned into sports bibs that the FA plans to distribute to the local community.

This is a good example of a brand working alongside the FA to creatively reuse and recycle as well as giving back to the local community.

This is a good example of a brand working alongside the FA to creatively reuse and recycle as well as giving back to the local community.

Engaging new audiences

While the FA Cup has great prestige in the UK, the competition can’t rely on this when looking to engage new fans in new global markets. To do so, the FA has used the changing nature of football fandom to its advantage.

Speaking in an interview on the FootballCo Business Podcast, Ryan Armstrong, senior brand manager at the FA, said: “Lots and lots of international fans now are following players, potentially more so than clubs.

“If you look at Cristiano Ronaldo when he came back to Manchester United, their club channels skyrocketed overnight.”

International players bring a unique marketing opportunity, and the FA has looked to tap into the evolving nature of football fandom. They have done this by utilising the local interest in the player and leveraging it to tell the story of the FA Cup

The Women’s FA Cup is also attracting a worldwide audience, aided by international stars. With three Australian national team players - Chelsea star Sam Kerr, and Manchester City's Hayley Raso and Alanna Kennedy - featuring in Sunday’s final, Australian broadcaster Optus acquired coverage rights for the game.

The competition is part of the growing trend in the popularity of watching women’s sport in the UK, which hit a domestic high of 33 million viewers in 2021 and that figure is forecast to treble by 2030.

Prior to Sunday’s final, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes called for a big marketing push to sell out Wembley for their tie against Manchester City. While that didn’t quite materialise, Sunday’s final drew a record-breaking attendance for the Women’s FA Cup of 49,094, confirming the growing trend.