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Wednesday, June 30, 1999 Published at 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK


United pull out of FA Cup

Manchester United look set to play in Fifa's World Team Championship

Manchester United have confirmed they will accept the Football Association's offer of missing next season's FA Cup.


Martin Edwards announces United's decision to sit out the FA Cup
The Old Trafford giants have defied opposition from supporters by agreeing to skip the competition so they can take part in the inaugural World Team Championship.

United chairman Martin Edwards said the club had "no alternative" but to accept the offer for one year only.


Kevin Bocquet: "The club says that players can't play 80 games in the season"
He added that the decision had been made "in the national interest".

The FA wants United to play in the new tournament in Brazil next January - because they believe it could aid England's 2006 World Cup bid.


[ image: Martin Edwards: Agonised over the FA's unprecedented offer]
Martin Edwards: Agonised over the FA's unprecedented offer
The Treble winners were concerned that the inaugural tournament would add to their already hectic fixture schedule, which led to the FA's proposal to ditch the FA Cup.

The FA's interim executive director, David Davies thanked United for what he agreed had been an "agonising decision".

Supporters and influential figures within the game have criticised the move, arguing that it devalues the oldest cup competition in world football.

New target

In a statement Edwards said: "We realise that many of our supporters will be as disappointed as we are with our decision not to compete in the FA Cup.


Click here to watch the Manchester United / FA press conference
"Manchester United see this as an opportunity to compete for the ultimate honour of being the very first world club champions."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been a long-time critic of the fixture congestion in English football and he was concerned his team would be unable to challenge for yet another trophy.


Sir Alex Ferguson: "The English World Cup bid was paramount"
"We can't go for them all," he said. "We can't play in the FA Cup and in Brazil. That would be impossible.

"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."

FA plans Premiership cut

The FA has proposed reducing the number of teams in the Premiership from 20 to 18 in an attempt to address next season's growing fixture chaos.


Mike Ingham reports for the BBC on a momentous decision
The issue, brought into focus by United's exit from the FA Cup, is a growing problem with some clubs now facing up to 70 matches in a season.

David Davies said: "We are very concerned about the amount of football that our players are playing.


Coventry chairman Brian Richardson: "It's against everything we agreed when we set the Premiership up"
"We can't just reach a solution in England. FIFA are working on a world football calendar and we have to be part of that."

But Davies also acknowledged the lack of support among Premiership clubs for a reduction - and was left in even less doubt as a clutch of clubs again spoke out in defiance.


David Davies: "We want United to lead English clubs onto the world stage"
West Ham secretary Graham Mackrell led the rebuttal, saying: "When you see the amount of money being generated in the Premiership you can't realistically expect to see clubs voting to fall on their swords."

Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale added: "I feel very strongly that domestic football is the foundation of our game, and if you undermine that the rest is likely to collapse."





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