Alex Ferguson bemoans changing the FA Cup his Manchester United once ignored
MANCHESTER United manger Sir Alex Ferguson is upset that Chelsea’s victory in the FA Cup final over Liverpool was moved to a 5:15 kick off rather than the usual 1500. (Others may bemoan the fact that the (yikes!) Budweiser FA Cup that used to mark the end of the English domestic football season is now shoe-horned between Premier League matches.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous. They have changed the most prestigious cup competition in the world just to get an audience.”
Readers may recall how in 1999, Ferguson’s United – the then Cup holders – pulled out of the entire 2000 FA Cup. The FA wanted United to take part in the inaugural World Club Championships. Could United take on another Cup contest? The FA said United could ditch the FA Cup.
Martin Edwards, the United Chairman, wanted United to be parachuted into the FA Cup 4th Round. United should get a pass, he said. The other leading teams would enter the FA Cup in the third round. But United would enter in the fourth and so render the entire contest unfair. The FA rejected this offer.
“Really it’s a no-win situation. It will help the 2006 World Cup bid if we go, and the Government and the FA are obviously very keen that we go. But if we pull out of the FA Cup that will disappoint our own supporters. We’re going to get criticised, whatever we do.”
Ferguson echoed his chairman’s words:
“We’re in a no-win situation here. The criticism we would have received if we hadn’t gone (to Brazil) would have been unthinkable – and that’s a Scotsman speaking.”
No win? To play in a televised football show that would be broadcast the world over?
Sports Minister Kate Hoey said United had treated its supporters “shabbily”.
So. Manchester United dropped out of the FA Cup and played in a global tournament, performing selflessly in the national interest.
And, no, United never offered to field a reserve team in the FA Cup third round. They just “changed the most prestigious cup competition in the world just to get an audience”…
And England never did get to stage the 2006 World Cup.
Image: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson leaves the pool at the training ground in Fla-Barra, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.