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Tuesday, June 29, 1999 Published at 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK

Sport: Football

United hold fire on FA Cup decision

Treble winners United are being urged to play in the World Team Championship

Manchester United will delay making a decision about their involvement in the FA Cup until Wednesday at least - following concerns made by their sponsors, AXA.

Mike Ingham: "United are set to be invited into a second world championship"
Members of the United board met on Monday to discuss the FA's proposal that the FA Cup holders relinquish hopes of defending the competition to play in the World Team Championship in Brazil next January.

It had been intended that United make a statement on Tuesday, but the picture has become clouded with AXA suggesting that the non-appearance of Sir Alex Ferguson's side in next season's competition will affect them too.

United chairman Martin Edwards said: "We had a meeting of some of the board last night and it was not a full board meeting. Dialogue is going on all the time, but I don't know when we will be able to make a statement."

2006 boost

The FA is anxious for United to take part in the World Team Championship to help England's 2006 World Cup bid and have offered them exemption from the FA Cup as a concession to ease their fixture congestion.

But Edwards claims this has put United in a "no-win situation" and that is why the club are not rushing into a decision.

He realises that they will be criticised whatever they decide to do. They will come under fire if they ditch the FA Cup, but they will also be attacked if they jeopardise England's World Cup bid by snubbing FIFA.

Meanwhile, FA Cup sponsors AXA claim they will want talks with the FA if United opt out of defending the trophy they won last month at Wembley.

AXA spokesman Phil Hickley claimed they would like to discuss the implications if United did pull out.

"Essentially it is a matter for the FA," he said. "It's only right and proper that decisions about football in this country are taken by the FA.

"They have the expertise in football terms, while we are but a sponsor.

"But as sponsors, if Manchester United do pull out we would want to have talks with the FA about the implications for this year's competition and the implications for future years.

"This would move the goalposts a little bit."

AXA have completed one year of a four-year deal to sponsor the world's most famous knock-out competition.

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