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FA Cup semi-finals
The semi-finals have always been contested at neutral venues. Since 2008, all semi-finals have been held at Wembley. In the past any suitably large ground which was not the home ground of a team in that semi-final was used. Villa Park in Birmingham, Old Trafford in Manchester, and Hillsborough in Sheffield were common hosts.
The 1989 semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, Sheffield, turned into tragedy when 96 supporters were killed in the stands due to overcrowding. The Hillsborough disaster had wide-ranging effects on future stadium design. Liverpool were granted a special dispensation to avoid playing their 2012 semi-final match against Everton on the 23rd anniversary of the disaster.
The 1991 semi-final between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur was the first to be played at Wembley, the traditional venue for the FA Cup Final. Two years later both semi-finals were held at Wembley after the Steel City derby between Sheffield clubs Wednesday and United was switched from the original venue of Elland Road, Leeds. This was repeated in 1994, although a replay between Manchester United and Oldham Athletic was held at Maine Road, Manchester.
From 1995 to 1999 and from 2001 to 2004 other neutral grounds were used, though in 2000 both matches were played at the old Wembley, in its final year of operation. In 2005 both semi-finals were played at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. However, in 2006 the FA decided to revert to the neutral ground system, with Villa Park and Old Trafford hosting the games.
In 2003, it was announced that all future semi-finals would be played at the new Wembley Stadium, once it had opened; this took effect in 2008. The decision was mainly for financial reasons, to allow the FA to recoup some of the costs of rebuilding the stadium. However, the move was opposed by traditionalists and drew criticism from some supporters' groups. Over a decade after the move, Aston Villa (amongst others) have called for the semi-finals to be regionalised once again.
Tottenham Hotspur's 2018 semi-final was to some extent a home match for them, as they played their home games at Wembley that season while their new stadium was under construction. However for the semi-final the FA did not treat them as a home team.
In the past, there would be a replay if a semi-final match was drawn. If the replay was also drawn, there would be a second replay. In theory, an unlimited number of games could be played to obtain a winner. For example, in 1980 it took four games to decide the tie between Arsenal and Liverpool. This was the most games needed to settle an FA Cup semi-final, although there were several occasions when three games were played. Prior to the 1992 semi-finals, the only semi-final played under different rules to this was the rearranged 1989 semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, for which it had been declared in advance that the game would be decided by extra time and penalties if necessary due to the Hillsborough Stadium disaster.
Queen's Park chose not to contest the 1871–72 replay match with Wanderers.
There were no semi-finals played in the 1872–73 competition. Under the rules at the time, holders Wanderers received a bye to the final. Queen's Park again decided not to contest a semi-final, so Oxford University advanced automatically.
Between 1877–1881 only one semi-final was played due to the format of the competition leaving three teams remaining.
In 1991 the FA decided that only one replay should be played (starting with the 1991–92 competition). If this game ended in a draw, extra time would be played, followed by penalty kicks if the match was still even. In 1999 it was decided that the semi-finals should be decided in one game, with extra time and penalties if the score was level after 90 minutes. Replays are still used in earlier rounds, however, though they were eliminated in the quarter-finals in 2016. The last FA Cup semi-final replay, in 1999, saw Manchester United take on Arsenal at Villa Park. This turned out to become one of the most memorable semi-finals of all time, with Peter Schmeichel saving a last-minute penalty from Dennis Bergkamp and a Ryan Giggs extra time goal deciding the outcome in Manchester United's favour. In 2003 this goal was voted the greatest ever in FA Cup history.
From 2016 to 2017, a fourth substitute was allowed in semi-final matches if the game went into extra time.
Villa Park is the most used stadium in FA Cup semi–final history, having hosted 55 semi–finals.
The highest winning margin was Newcastle United's 6–0 victory over Fulham in the 1908 Anfield semi-final. The highest post-war winning margin was Stoke City's 5–0 victory over Bolton Wanderers in the second 2011 semi-final on 17 April 2011. The highest-scoring match was Hull City's 5–3 victory over Sheffield United in the second 2014 semi-final.
List of FA Cup semi-finals
|*||Match went to extra time|
|†||Match decided by a penalty shootout after extra time|
|Bold||Winning team won The Double|
|Italics||Team from outside the top level of English football
(since the formation of The Football League in 1888)
Teams shown with an asterisk beside their name are no longer in existence. This table is updated after 2016–17 FA Cup.
- Venues that no longer exist or regularly host football matches are denoted with an asterisk.
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