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Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Man Utd's FA Cup catastrophe
Sir Alex Ferguson reveals how United were under pressure
Sir Alex Ferguson reveals how United were under pressure
Sir Alex Ferguson has branded Manchester United's withdrawal from the FA Cup as "a catastrophe."

United opted to take part in the inaugural World Club Championship in Brazil to help England's ill-fated 2006 World Cup bid.

Ferguson now admits the move was "without question a catastrophe."

But he also revealed United faced no choice after being strongly pressurised by both the Football Association and the Government to take part, so that German champions Bayern Munich did not take United's place and score political points.

Ferguson admits he was then outraged by the FA and Government's subsequent lack of support for United, who had legend Sir Bobby Charlton as a member of the bid committee, after the decision to pull out of the FA Cup sparked mass public uproar.

United legend Charlton - key figure in 2006 bid
United legend Charlton - key figure in 2006 bid
"The pressure applied to persuade us to take part in Brazil was so strong we were made to feel it was a patriotic duty to go to South America," Ferguson.

"Perhaps we should not have been too surprised to find that the men from the FA and Government who orchestrated that pressure somehow faded into the background, and behaved like mere bystanders once the media fastened on to the issue and it became clear that the absence of the trophy holders from the oldest knockout competition in football was being treated as a national scandal.

"All the quiet promises of official backing evaporated and we were left on our own as the convenient villains of the piece."

The notion I would belittle the competition is crazy
  Sir Alex Ferguson
"The truth is that I feel deeply for the FA Cup and the notion I would willingly belittle the competition is crazy.

"To the best of my knowledge, initially nobody at Manchester United was interested in going to Brazil.

"I have to say I was disappointed by how the FA and Government reacted, or failed to react, to the trouble their intervention stirred up around our heads. When all the flak was flying nothing was heard.

"How could they distance themselves like that?"

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