|And, lo it came to pass that
one club became bigger than all the others and the League itself. Yes,
Manchester United plc moved out of the FA Cup and into the World
Marketable Shop Window tournament to be held in Brazil in the winter.
This comes after a pre-season tour of Australia and some games set up in
the Far East to boost the launch of the Reds Cafe/Megastore/Theme Parks
that are to be set up out there. I am of the opinion that George Graham
just about hit the nail on the head when he said the pull-out of the FA
Cup had nothing to do with the 2006 World Cup or pressure from the
Government, it was all about opportunity. However, I am still a bit
mystified about all the fuss that has been kicked up about the matter.
Frankly, if Manchester United drop-out, why is the competition devalued
?? They tried to ban us from it a few seasons ago, but no-one was of the
view that the most prestigious competition in football was tarnished
because we werenít going to be in it. And that came at a time when we
held the record for the number of times we had won the thing. Through
the years, various clubs have been out of the FA Cup, because they have
forgotten to enter. Yes, you have to make an application to enter the
competition and some errant secretaries of clubs have not posted theirs
in time and were unable to take part. If the "Mighty" Reds
want to opt out of playing in the FA Cup, then who will be the losers ??
They will be unable to defend their trophy and they will have one less
pot to play for, so no "Double" or "Triple" this
season for them. It is also one less route into Europe for them,
although the qualification for the Champions League means they donít
really have to worry about that. And the biggest reason I canít
understand the hoo-haa, is that for the last three seasons, Manchester
United reserves have represented the club in the Worthington Cup without
a voice being raised by anyone about the club dropping out of the
competition. Why couldnít they have done the same this season in the
FA Cup ?? Surely it is better to have some Manchester United
representation than none, if you listen to the newspapers.
And the Government arenít exactly blameless in this, are they ??
They labour under the apprehension that football is a serious issue and
set up a task force to investigate what is wrong with the game, but then
decide that they are the people who know best what to do in such a
"crisis". All because the Tony loves World Cup 2006. Was it
really going to have any bearing on where the tournament would end up ??
Would FIFA think, "Oh, what jolly good chaps England are that they
will sacrifice the integrity of the oldest club competition in the
world, just so the League winners can take part against the cream of
Oceania in the World Club Championship." ?? Methinks not.
Taking part in the winter break for most European clubs and during
the close season for other nations, there are few countries which will
be disadvantaged by the timing of the event. It is rumoured that it may
be available on TV in the UK as Pay Per View (PPV). This is surely the
biggest irony of the lot. The money making potential of the thing far
exceeds that they could gross from the FA Cup and therefore, for the
sake of their fans they are representing Europe in Brazil, but their
very own fans will have to shell out hard-earned cash to watch them on a
grainy reception from South America. Who is it being done for ?? Need
you ask ?? Not that PPV will be the sole domain of Manchester United.
No, the Champions League may well be shown via this mode and how long
before most European matches are available this way ??
Of course there is still poor Manny Small of Arsenal, who canít
face the arduous campaign ahead of him and tells us that all the foreign
players will have nervous and physical breakdowns unless they cut the
amount of games we have to play. After playing two games in three days
at Christmas, he said the foreigners looked at themselves and asked
"What are we doing here ". Well, earning shedloads of cash for
a start and having to play more games than they would at home in more
unpleasant weather conditions is your bread and butter work. Pity the
poor street-sweepers who have to carry out their daily tasks in rain or
shine. There are many other players who have come to this country to ply
their trade, who do so in a professional manner, because they knew what
was entailed before they arrived. They are the ones who deserve their
money rather than the whinging of players, who because they have won the
World Cup (and this includes LeBoeuf) think they have a right to say how
the game in this country should be run.
The outrage that poured from Arsene Wenger was a bit rich considering
he wanted Arsenal to opt out of the Charity Shield because they had too
many important matches in the Champions League later in the season.
Despite the fact that the game raised money for many good causes, none
which are involved with teams in red unfortunately for the two sides
concerned, but hey ... thatís "sport" for you. Itís a
funny old "business".