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Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 07:48 GMT

Sport: Football

Edwards derides 'no win' situation

Wembley winners: For the first time the FA Cup holders may not defend their trophy

Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards believes that his team are in a "no-win" situation after the Football Association told them they could opt-out of next season's FA Cup.

United have been informed that the club can miss next season's FA Cup in order to take part in Fifa's inaugural World Team Championship.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet: "It would provide the ultimate test"
But that decision has angered United fans who would like to see their side defend the Cup they won as part of their treble.

"We're going to get criticized whatever we do," said Edwards.

"If we don't go people will say that we are selfish and only looking after ourselves and not prepared to help the 2006 World Cup bid.

"But we will also be criticised if we say we're not going to compete in the FA Cup."


Supporter's spokesman Andy Walsh criticises the FA
It already seems that the vast majority of United fans see the FA offer as one which is not mutually beneficial.

"They've shown very little offer of help in the past when United have looked to ease their fixture congestion," said Andy Walsh, chairman of the Manchester United Independent Supporters' Association.

[ image: Alex Ferguson lifts the FA Cup - the second part of the historic Treble]
Alex Ferguson lifts the FA Cup - the second part of the historic Treble
"This blinding conversion is all to do with the 2006 campaign."

The FA and the Government have already admitted that United's participation is essential to the England bid to stage the 2006 World Cup.

FA director David Davies: "This is too good an opportunity to miss"
The World Team Championship, which will bring together the best team from each of the six continents, takes place in Brazil next January - just eight weeks before Fifa members vote on 2006.

One major FA fear is that if United fail to compete in the event, Bayern Munich - runners-up in last month's European Cup final - will take their place and hand Germany a huge advantage within Fifa in terms of the World Cup bid.

Sports minister Tony Banks backs the FA offer
Sports minister Tony Banks urged United to put the national interest first by pulling out of the FA Cup.

"Failure to go to Brazil would do irreparable damage to the 2006 bid," he said.

"This is more important than the FA Cup and I hope United fans appreciate that. It is only for one season."

One-off move

The FA's interim executive director David Davies insisted United would only be allowed to sit out the Cup for one season.

[ image: David Davies:
David Davies: "It would send the worst possible signal to turn our backs on this tournament"
"This is an unprecedented situation that demands an unprecedented solution, " he said.

"For the first time, there is a competition which will produce the undisputed best club in the world and we believe that Manchester United should have the chance to be part of that.

"We believe that it would send the worst possible signal to world football at a time when we are in the midst of the 2006 bid to turn our backs on this tournament."

'Mickey Mouse' cup

David Mellor, chairman of the National Football Taskforce, said he was "personally very strongly opposed" to the move.

The BBC radio presenter and former Tory MP said: "I do understand the pressure of 2006, but I don't see why domestic competitions - particularly the most prestigious domestic cup competition in the world - should be down-graded so United can participate in what we would otherwise regard as a Mickey Mouse tournament."

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