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Betting On The FA Cup: Could A Non-League Team Surprise?

FA Cup

The 2019-20 FA Cup is already well underway. Right now, we’re into the second of five Rounds Proper of the main tournament, with the final stages taking place in March of next year. Manchester City are the defending champions, having won the tournament for the sixth time last year. It seems as if the bookies think Manchester City are going to win again this year, if the latest odds are anything to go by. Most of the major bookies have the club as the odds-on favourites to win next year. Odds of 3/1 are being offered by William Hill, Sky Bet, UniBet, Betway and more, while bookies such as Bet365 and Ladbrokes have 10/3 odds for a City win.

The club that’s currently second favourite to win is Liverpool. Bookies such as Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power and UniBet are offering 6/1 odds, while at William Hill and Bet Victor you can get odds of 5/1 for a Reds win. Tottenham is the next favourite: 7/1 odds are available at Paddy Power, William Hill and Betfair, while you can get odds of 8/1 at bookies such as Bet365 and Ladbrokes. The fourth favourite is Chelsea, who have odds of 8/1 and 9/1 at most major bookies, then it’s Manchester United, whose odds are mostly 9/1, 10/1 and 11/1.

All of the teams mentioned above have won the FA cup numerous times. Manchester United have a dozen wins to their name (the second highest number after Arsenal’s 13), while both Chelsea and Tottenham have eight and Liverpool have seven. Given these clubs’ past successes, it’s no surprise that the bookies are backing them so much.

As with any sport, there’s always the chance that the unexpected might happen. Since 1945, only nine non-league clubs (clubs not belonging to the Football League or the Premier League) have made it to the Fifth Round Proper of the tournament. Over the years, non-league teams have slowly but steadily been making it further in the tournament. The 2016-17 tournament, for example, was the first one where two non-league teams, Lincoln City and Sutton United, made it as far as the Fifth Round Proper. What was also remarkable about this tournament was that Lincoln City went on to play in the quarter finals. This was the first time since 1914 that a non-league team had made it this far. Though Lincoln City went on to lose 5-0 to Arsenal, making it so far in the tournament was still a very impressive feat, nonetheless.

The qualifying rounds for the 2019-20 FA Cup saw a total of 32 non-league teams proceed to the First Round Proper. Some of these, such as Maldon & Tiptree, Hartlepool United, Chichester City and Altrincham, have made it to the Second Round Proper. Whether a non-league team manages to make it to the Fifth Round Proper or even advance to the quarter finals and match Lincoln City’s record remains to be seen. It might be worth keeping an eye on Crawley Town: the club’s currently in the Second Round Proper and made it all the way to the Fifth-Round Proper back in the 2010-11 tournament. This particular club may well be the dark horse of the 2019-20 FA Cup, or some other non-league team could come along and surprise everyone. It’s very unlikely that a non-league team will win the overall tournament, but there’s still a chance that one could come closer than people expect.

This article was brought to you by The Non-League Paper, the UK's best-selling football title on the newsstand, on-sale every Sunday.
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