Winning the FA Cup does not come easy, and in order to be crowned champions teams must compete in a minimum of six gruelling matches.

There are several different rounds in the FA Cup competition, and we’ve got all the information you need about what they are, when they are held and what teams must do in order to qualify for them.

Extra Preliminary Round

Month of draw: July

Matches held in: August

Number of matches in 2015-16: 184

Who enters at this stage?  

Clubs from Levels 9 and 10 of the English Football Pyramid enter at this stage. To enter, a club from these levels must have competed in either the FA Trophy or the FA Vase in the previous season, if not the FA Cup itself.

In 2015-16, 276 of the clubs in the 14 divisions of Level 9 met these criteria. 92 teams from the 17 divisions of Level 10 also took part.

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Preliminary Round

Month of draw: July

Matches held in: August

Number of matches: 160

Who enters at this stage?

The 136 clubs at Level 8 of English football now enter the competition. The Southern Football League, Northern Premier League and the Isthmian League each have two divisions at Level 8.

First Qualifying Round

Month of draw: August

Matches held in: September

Number of matches: 116

Who enters at this stage?

All 72 clubs playing at Level 7 of the Football Pyramid join the competition at this stage, including the Premier divisions of the Southern Football League, Northern Premier League and Isthmian League.

Second Qualifying Round

Month of draw: September

Matches held in: September

Number of matches: 80

Who enters at this stage?

The 44 clubs from Level 6 of the Football Pyramid (all of whom play in either the National League South or National League North) enter at this stage.

Third Qualifying Round

Month of draw: September

Matches held in: October

Number of matches: 40

Who enters at this stage?

No new teams compete in this round.

The 40 winners of this round move through to the Fourth Qualifying Round.

Fourth Qualifying Round

Month of draw: October

Matches held in: October

Number of matches: 32

Who enters at this stage?

The 24 clubs from the National League (Level 5) enter the tournament.

The 32 winners from this stage go through to the First Round of what is known as the ‘Competition Proper’.

First Round

Month of draw: October

Matches held in: November

Number of matches: 40

Who enters at this stage?

The 24 clubs from League One (Level 3) and the same number from League Two (Level 4) enter the FA Cup at this stage, competing with the 32 winners from the Fourth Qualifying Round.

Second Round

Month of draw: November

Matches held in: December

Number of matches: 20

Who enters at this stage?

No new teams enter the competition in the Second Round.

Third Round

Month of draw: December

Matches held in: January

Number of matches: 32

Who enters at this stage?

This is the final round in which new teams join the competition. The 20 clubs from the Premier League (Level 1) and the 24 clubs from the Championship enter the FA Cup at this stage.

These 44 teams join the 20 winners from the previous round.

Fourth Round

Month of draw: January

Matches held in: January

Number of matches: 16

Fifth Round

Month of draw: January

Matches held in: February

Number of matches: 8

Quarter-Finals

Draw date: February

Matches held in: March

Number of matches: 4

The four winners go through to the Semi-Finals.

Semi-Finals

Month of draw: March

Matches held in: April

Number of matches: 2

Final

Match held in May (usually on the Saturday after the end of the Premier League season).

Number of matches: 1

The two winners of the Semi-Finals compete in the Final, and the winner of this match will take home the trophy.

While the specific dates of each round are subject to change, the rounds are traditionally held in the same month each year. The number of teams entering the competition also changes according to eligibility. Yet as of the Preliminary Round, the number of teams still in the competition is always the same.

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