The world's oldest knockout tournament will continue to be named the Emirates FA Cup until 2021 following the new sponsorship deal with Emirates Airline.
The competition was first named the Emirates FA Cup for the 2015-16 season after Budweiser ended its three-year association with the tournament in 2014.
The Emirates sponsorship has one more year to run under the current contract and fears were that Emirates were not going to renew. However, the new deal will add a further three years to the sponsorship taking Emirates through to the end of the 2020/21 season.
The renewal is a reduction on the £10 million per season agreed for the first term of Emirates’ sponsorship. Emirates had stepped into the position after a season when the title partner position was unfilled. Prior to that Budweiser were the competition’s main sponsor.
The FA Cup sponsorship is one of the key assets of the English FA and the competition is traditionally a fixed point in the English football calendar building towards its showcase Wembley final in May.
As such it is an important season long mechanism for generating funding for the game in England, particularly via the revenue uplift for the small clubs who are drawn against teams from the top tiers of the professional structure, but also from the sponsorships.
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s commercial director, said: “With the support of Emirates, last season’s competition reached over 912 million fans worldwide. The partnership will also allow us to continue our investment into the game at all levels.”
The competition has already adapted to suit a crowded English football calendar with Cup replays having been abandoned in favour of extra time and penalty shoot-outs. Further discussions have been held about moving some weekend rounds to mid-week.
This season’s competition has already started with preliminary rounds taking place last weekend and the BBC having committed to broadcast at least one game from every round. The FA reported that 737 clubs had entered the competition with “185 extra preliminary round ties taking place across the country. Last year’s competition alone hosted over 11,000 players from over 700 teams, playing in matches attended by over 1.8 million fans.”
While the FA Cup dominates cup competitions in England, it is its international reach that is important for Emirates’ sponsorship. The airline has activated its sponsorship with an FA Cup branded plane, and a tour of the FA Cup trophy round Africa.
Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said: “We remain incredibly proud to continue our role as the first ever title sponsor of such a prestigious and historic tournament…We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure the Emirates FA Cup remains the best loved and revered domestic cup competition in the world.”