Community Shield vs FA Cup

Community Shield vs FA Cup – What’s The Difference?

If you’ve just started following English football, you may be confused about some of the competitions played in the country. The Community Shield and the FA Cup are two popular competitions that English teams play. 

But what’s the difference between them

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The difference between the Community Shield and the FA Cup

The FA Cup is one of two official cup competitions in England. It is contested by over 700 English teams across the various divisions. It is a knockout-style competition where the loser of each game goes out of the tournament. Meanwhile, the Community Shield is a single-match curtain-raiser for the new English season. 

Here is an in-depth explanation of the differences between both competitions: 

Number of teams 

The Community Shield is a one-off match contested between two teams. 

Meanwhile, the FA Cup involves teams that come from all the different tiers of English football, all the way down to tier 10! As a result, 736 teams were involved in the 2020-2021 FA Cup

Moreover, some Welsh teams feature in the FA Cup, due to historical reasons. These teams can feature in both the FA Cup and the Premier League if they are eligible for both.

Competition format 

The Community Shield is played between the winners of the FA Cup and Premier League from the previous season. It will be a one-off game and the winners are decided on the day. 

Meanwhile, the FA Cup is a knockout competition. This means that the winner of each match will progress on to the next stage. The loser will automatically be eliminated from the competition!

As such, you will only have one chance in the FA Cup. If you lose just one match, you will no longer be able to play in the competition!

Extra time and Penalties 

If a Community Shield game is level after 90 minutes, it goes straight to penalties. This is in contrast to other Super Cups like the UEFA Super Cup.

However, the FA has not used extra time in the curtain-raiser game for several years.

All FA Cup games after Round 2 that finish as a draw go to an extra 30 minutes of extra time and then a penalty shootout. However, matches in Round 1 and earlier go to replays. 

The FA Cup traditionally used replays for all rounds up till the quarter-final.  A situation where the tie is completed at the away side’s ground to determine a winner.

However, replays have been scrapped from 2021-2023.

Host Stadiums

The Community Shield is played at the national stadium, Wembley every year. 

The home team for each FA Cup tie is determined by a draw. However, both the semi-finals and finals are played at Wembley. 

Number of Matches

The Community Shield is a one-off game. While you only need to play one game to win it, a lot of work must be done in the previous season to win the Premier League or FA Cup to qualify for the tournament. 

Meanwhile, the number of matches you play in the FA Cup has a huge variety. If you are a tier 9 or 10 club that makes it all the way to the final, you will play a total of 14 matches.

For a Premier League team that makes it to the final, they will play a total of 6 games.

The number of matches you play in the FA Cup depends on the league you belong to and how well you perform.

Eligible teams

Only the winners of the FA Cup and the Premier League are eligible to contest the Community Shield.

For example, the 2021 Community Shield was played between Premier League Champions Man City and FA Cup winners Leicester City who defeated Chelsea in the 2020/21 FA Cup final. 

For the FA Cup, every official team in the English football pyramid is eligible to contest. This includes clubs from the Premier League, all the way down to the grassroots level. Some Welsh teams are also part of the English game and are eligible to play in the FA Cup.  

Frequency and duration

Both competitions are held annually. 

The Community Shield is played in August, exactly a week before the opening of the Premier League season

The FA cup also begins in August at the start of the English football calendar. However, you may only take note of the FA Cup starting in January. This is because that is when the Premier League teams will start to feature in the Third Round of the FA Cup.

The teams from tiers 9 and 10 of English football have already played in the qualifying competition all the way back in August.

If some of these clubs make their way to the 32 teams in the Third Round, they may play against teams from the Premier League or Championship.

This has led to some stunning upsets by these lower-league teams!

Squad Size 

Both the Community Shield and FA Cup have similar squad rules.

The Community Shield requires a matchday squad of 18 players which involves 11 starters and 7 players on the substitute’s bench. 

Likewise, the FA Cup squad can have a maximum of 18 players with 11 starters and 7 substitutes. The FA Cup squad can be changed from game to game to accommodate for injuries and suspensions. 

Prizes for winning the competition 

Here are the prizes teams will receive for winning both completion : 

The winners of the FA Community Shield add the Community Shield trophy to their trophy cabinet. The prize money for winning the Community Shield isn’t fixed and changes yearly, however, the winners get the same prize money as the runners-up due to the charitable nature of the competition. 

For the FA Cup, there is a lot more at stake for teams that reach the final. The winners gain automatic qualification to the UEFA Europa League group stages as well as becoming eligible to contest the next season’s Community Shield. The winners also receive a £3.4 million cash prize

You can find out more about what happens when you win the FA Cup here.


Here is a summary of the comparison between the Community Shield and the FA Cup:

Community Shield FA Cup
Number of teams involved700+
Competition format Single match Elimination 
Frequency AnnualAnnual
Duration One-off game August – May
Eligible teamsWinners of FA Cup and Premier LeagueAll English professional clubs
Number of matches Max of 14 
Squad size 1818
Presence of replays NoOnly up to Round 2 
Prizes for winning Community Shield trophy Europa League + Community Shield 

Which is more prestigious, the Community Shield or the FA Cup? 

The Community Shield may feel more like a friendly, similar to other competitions like the Spanish Super Cup. It is often played as an extension of pre-season.

As such, most teams may not put out their strongest lineups.

It is fair to say that the FA Cup is much more prestigious than the Community Shield as there is a lot more at stake in the competition.

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