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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 19:35 GMT

Sport: Football

FA Cup to have 'wild card' entry

The scheme has been drawn up to cope with Man Utd's non-participation

One of the 20 losing clubs in the FA Cup second round are to be given a second chance, following Manchester United's decision to pull out.

Under a scheme drawn up to cope with United's non-participation, the Football Association have created a 'wild card' spot.

When the third-round draw takes place on November 21, a total of 63 balls - as opposed to the normal 64 - will be included and the final team to be picked out will play at home to the wild-card entry.

But the identity of that club will not be known until after all 20 second-round ties, including replays, have been concluded, when all the losing teams will then enter their own draw for the wild-card spot.

The FA want to avoid the scenario of two clubs competing in the second round knowing that both of them will go through and with the losers potentially facing more lucrative or easier third-round opponents.

An FA spokesman said: "We have been determined that the beneficiaries of this unique situation should be a smaller club outside the Premier League and the First Division. They will be.

"The AXA wild card is a novel idea which will create considerable interest and excitement.

"Ultimately, though a number of opinions were considered, the desire to help a smaller club meant this was the best way forward."

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