We're pleased to announce the schedule for the 2020-21 Emirates FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leicester City, at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Saturday 15 May.
Completing this season’s Cup campaign has required a collective effort and we've welcomed nominations from all 737 participating clubs and the general public for inspirational stories of people who have gone above and beyond their duties in aid of the competition and their local communities amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, a selection of nominees will be recognised and celebrated in the lead up to the 140th Cup Final. There will be a series of bespoke ‘Thank You’ pieces shared across our digital channels and in matchday programme, as well as on the day itself with invitations to attend, bespoke banners, a video played out on the stadium’s big screens following ‘Abide with Me’ and nominees from Chelsea and Leicester City performing the traditional pre-match trophy walkout.
Mark Blythe, Chelsea’s nominee, has been at the forefront of the Chelsea Foundation’s response to the pandemic. He's worked tirelessly to keep its walking footballers socially connected – many of whom have been seriously ill during this time – using big moments in the club’s calendar such as the Emirates FA Cup semi-final to provide unique opportunities to interact, learn and stay active.
Leicester City’s nominee, Adam Martin, is a long-serving member of staff who has been an outstanding servant to both Leicester City in the Community and the club’s academy set-up during the pandemic and over many years.
The first video in the series has been released this week and stars Dawn Finch, who has juggled her role as an administrator with semi-finalists Southampton and volunteering at the Royal South Hants Hospital, while also going over and above to support the most vulnerable in the community.
And Ben Kay, a groundsman at Accrington Stanley and former head groundsman of Chorley, has also been invited to support Wembley Stadium’s grounds team around the Final.
With Chorley’s third round fixture against Derby County in serious doubt due to freezing temperatures, Ben and his team braved the cold to sleep on the pitch overnight and rotate small heaters that ensured it could go ahead.
Other invitees to the Final include:
• Sporting Bengal United’s first team coach, Arosh Ali, who selflessly devoted himself to their Emirates FA Cup campaign and led Zoom fitness sessions for the players despite suffering from family bereavements and with a requirement to shield;
• Phil Weller, who dedicated himself to the role of Hampton & Richmond Borough’s COVID-19 officer;
• Fans and staff who were central to Marine and Tottenham Hotspur’s remarkable fundraising efforts ahead of their historic tie in the third round;
• Chorley’s manager, Jamie Vermiglio, who expertly juggled his football commitments in reaching the fourth round of the competition alongside his role as a head teacher.
The singing of Abide with Me, the Final’s traditional pre-match ritual, will be led within Wembley Stadium by the B Positive Choir. The choir has members across the UK, many of whom include people who have blood-related medical conditions such as Sickle Cell disease, as well as blood donors and recipients. The singing of the hymn – often an emotional moment for the thousands in the stadium and the millions watching at home – will be dedicated to the memory of all those who have lost their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic.
We're also excited to announce that the national anthem will be sung by the English singer and songwriter Becky Hill, who rose to prominence on The Voice and has since gone on to top the UK singles chart. Both the B Positive Choir and Becky will be supported by the Band of the Coldstream Guards, which will also perform its own individual marching display.
Our President, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, will attend the Final and lead out its traditional presentation party to meet both teams, including FA Chairman Peter McCormick, Emirates’ UK divisional vice president Richard Jewsbury and Steve Curwood, chairman of the FA Cup Challenge Committee. The Duke of Cambridge will be presented to both teams.
"In the backdrop of the pandemic, this season’s Emirates FA Cup was one of the most challenging in living memory," said Andy Ambler, our director of professional game relations.
"Reaching the Final stage of the competition has required huge determination from all sides of the football family but that effort has been rewarded; communities have come closer together; much needed funds have been raised; clubs and players have experienced lifechanging moments, and fans across the country have been provided with some much needed respite and enjoyment.
"This year’s Final is an opportunity for us to recognise and thank all the volunteers, players, staff and fans who have demonstrated a spirit that epitomises why the Emirates FA Cup is so special."