Edwards 'sick to death' of FA Cup issue

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 July, 1999, 12:00am

Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards has hit out at the British government for trying to pressure the Treble winners into rethinking their decision to withdraw from the FA Cup.

Edwards said yesterday that United had made their decision and 'nothing has changed and that nothing was likely to change'.

He said United's decision to skip the FA Cup to compete in January's World Club Championship in Brazil was 'purely to help England's 2006 World Cup bid'.

On Thursday, the British government appealed to United and the English FA to try and find a way round the fixture logjam.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey, who speaks for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the Lords, the upper house of the British parliament, said he hoped the club could compete in both the FA Cup and the World Club Championship.

But Edwards fumed: 'It's all right standing up in the House of Lords or the Houses of Parliament saying this and saying that, but they're not aware of the demands on the club or the demands on the players and what they are capable of playing.

'We are due to play 38 league matches plus an expanded European Champions' League. We got four matches in the World Club Championships, matches in the Intercontinental Cup [in Tokyo] and the Super Cup against Lazio.

'We also have the Worthington Cup. Of course we are very disappointed that we can't defend the FA Cup. We won it four times in the last 10 years. Last season we played 62 games and we've got 61 this year. Something had to give.

'We have received no credit at all. All we got was stick. We're sorry about it, but we're getting tired about it all.' Edwards said football was run by football authorities and not government.

'It was a football decision and has nothing to do with politics. I would not dream to get up in the House of Lords and Commons and debate on a bill.' Edwards said there was 'no way' the club would change their decision and that he was 'sick to death' that the issue has dragged on.

The Old Trafford boss also ruled out any chance of United fielding a youth or reserve team in the FA Cup.

United assistant manager Steve McClaren said the team must cope with the heat and humidity expected for today's sold-out match against South China at Hong Kong Stadium.

'We have had absolutely no preparation in terms of acclimatising to the heat and humidity,' he said.

United skipper Denis Irwin expects another tough match to complete their Far East tour.

'I remember we came here two years and beat South China 1-0 but it was a very tough match. Our match [today] is no different,' said Irwin.

LINE-UPS South China (likely): Mick Leonard; Yau Kin-wai, Lee Kin-wo, Cristiano Codeiro, Leung Chi-wing; Lee Wai-tik, Shum Kwok-pui, Ailton Araujo, Chan Chi-hong; Ricky Cheng Siu-chung, Gavin Price.

Manchester United (likely): Raimond van der Gouw; John Curtis, Wes Brown, Jaap Stam, Denis Irwin; Jonathan Greening, Mark Wilson, Nicky Butt, Jesper Blomqvist; Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham.

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