The Charity Shield

The Charity Shield or Football Association Community Shield is an annual match contested between the champions of the FA Premier League and the winners of the FA Cup. It is always played at Wembley Stadium and the money raised at the gate is donated to charities as its name implies.

The Charity Shield football tournament originated from the Sheriff of London Charity Shield introduced in 1898-99 as a competition between professionals and amateurs. Due to a fall-out between leading amateur clubs and the FA, the Sheriff of London Charity Shield was replaced by the Football Association Charity Shield. The first Charity Shield match was played in 1908 between Manchester United, reigning Football League Champions, and Queens Park Rangers, then Southern League Champions.

Various competition formats along the lines of amateur versus professional were attempted over the years, until the format of Premier League (formerly Football League) winner vs. FA Cup winner was decided on in 1930, and with a few exceptions, this format has remained to the present day. In 1974, FA Secretary Ted Croker proposed that the Shield should be played at Wembley as a curtain-raiser to the new season. The game is decided on the day, with a penalty shoot-out if the scores are level.

The Community Shield’s status is lower than that of the Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup football matches and it is widely considered to be a minor trophy although it does offer spectators their first opportunity of the season to watch the new signings of some of England’s top football clubs in action for the first time. According to Sir Alex Ferguson, “It’s always a game we never quite use of a do or die thing, we use it as a barometer for fitness”.

The history of the Charity Sheild demonstrates the fact that, irrespective of the status of the football match, it is consistently won by the teams who also dominate the FA Cup and Premier League. Manchester United is the most succesful club in the history of the event with 13 wins, followed by Liverpool who have won the Charity Shield on 10 occasions.

Due to the changing format of the Charity Field two clubs have managed to lift this trophy without having won either the FA Cup or the Premier League. Leicester City won the Charity Shield in 1971 after Brighton Hove and Albion first achieved this feat in 1910.