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Fergie Really Has Gone Soft If Supporting ANOTHER World Cup Bid

It’s safe to say that Manchester United were fairly unpopular in England in 1999. We had won the league, the European Cup and the FA Cup all in one season, something no other team in the history of English football has ever achieved.

Our likeability went from bad to worse when we snubbed the FA Cup for the following season. Who did we think we were to pull out of such a prestigious competition? How arrogant we must have been to ditch that competition to play in some club World Cup.

We got slaughtered from all angles and the short term memory of it all amazed me. Manchester United have won the FA Cup more than any other team, so did people really believe our club took it lightly? How easy was it for everybody to assume we fancied ourselves too much to turn down an opportunity for world domination?

Let’s look at the facts. England were putting in a bid to host the 2006 World Cup and therefore wanted to get in to FIFA’s good books. The World Club Championships was their baby and if United didn’t take part in the competition, England could kiss their World Cup bid goodbye, if an English club was to disrespect their competition.

“It is my estimation that a failure by Manchester United to go to the new competition in Brazil – particularly if they were replaced by Bayern Munich – would do irreparable damage to our 2006 campaign,” said Sports Minister Tony Banks.

Our Chairman at the time, Martin Edwards, talked of the dilemma our club were in.

“It will help the 2006 World Cup bid if we go, and the Government and the FA are obviously very keen that we go,” he said. “But if we pull out of the FA Cup that will disappoint our own supporters. We’re going to get criticised, whatever we do.”

After relentless pressure from the Government and the FA to snub in the FA Cup in favour of FIFA’s competition, United finally gave in. The players weren’t happy, the manager wasn’t happy and the fans weren’t happy.

Then a new Sports Minister, Kate Hoey, who was also an Arsenal fan, replaced Banks.

“I am just amazed that they have actually treated their supporters in what I would say was quite a shabby way,” she said.

Hold on a minute. The Sports Minister is amazed that we succumbed to the pressure applied on us by the previous Sports Minister? Aside from totally ignorant, it was appalling for to go to the media with such fierce criticism of our club for doing what the Government and FA had begged us to do.

Unsurprisingly, Edwards was not impressed.

“For a new Sports Minister to suddenly enter the arena at this late stage and tell us we are treating our supporters shabbily and should go back in the FA Cup is a disgrace,” Edwards said. “I suggest she does her homework and I suggest the government gets its act together, because we did this in support of the last Sports Minister.”

It didn’t matter. We got absolutely ripped to shreds for pulling out of the FA Cup and still have it held against us today.

In 2008, FA executive director David Davies looked back on this event and expressed his sympathy for United, but it was all too little too late, after the Government and FA hung United out to dry over the matter.

“Supporting the Club World Championship was vital to keep FIFA sweet,” said Davies. “That message was reinforced by FIFA, who made it clear that if United didn’t represent Europe in FIFA’s major club competition it would be impossible for the FA even to dream of hosting 2006. United were completely torn, agonising over the decision. Right from the start Fergie was shocked about even the thought of forsaking the Cup for a season. His respect for the Cup ran deep.”

Read in full: United disrespected the FA Cup? That’s what the media would have you believe!

England are now planning to host the 2018 World Cup and are clear favourites, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter claiming this country would be the easiest choice.

A six-man FIFA team are currently in England to assess the country’s suitability to host the showpiece and where do the FA want them to go? Manchester United, of course. They’ve asked Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton to show them around Old Trafford, the biggest ground in the country after the national stadium, Wembley.

Our manager has obliged and has thrown his support behind England’s bid, despite the fact we got completely fucked over back in 1999.

Looks like the ol’ man isn’t as hard faced and stubborn as some might make out!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

View all posts by Scott »



  1. Jig3000 says:


  2. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    that 1999 bullcrap was shocking

    sent to the wovles really

  3. Sayyid says:


  4. Costas says:

    I didn’t know the details behind the FA cup fiasco in 99. The sad thing is that England didn’t even get the world cup. Just like they won’t now, lol.

  5. Sayyid says:

    I never understood why we didnt play our reserve/youth team in the 3rd round!!!

  6. IamjustDimitar says:


    has to be awesome to get a Old Trafford tour from SAF and Bobby Charlton.

  7. bchilds says:


    Yep that always seemed to be the perfect senario!

  8. United1990 says:

    hmmm… does that explain why the FA are anti-United? =/

  9. Kingabdullah says:

    OFF TOPIC: no comment on our saviour Red Knight being in charge of the Liverpool bid??

  10. willierednut says:

    Fair play to Sir alex, he’s not as hard – nosed as some would have you believe.

  11. Brian says:

    Strangely, the World Championships have been the only time I was ever lucky enough to see Utd play because og my family in Brazil.

    Utd at the Maracana will always be pretty special in the end. I remember Giggs not looking very happen as the coach pulled out at the end of the Vasco Di Gama game but I was only little and didn’t care.. always very special to me. :)

  12. MG says:

    Sir Alex is taking pity on the English Scott

    Come on it’s good to show everyone where all the power lies – inside the gaffer’s room OT

    After all we make them all look good (obviously being better of course : )

  13. james21 says:

    Rivals still hold it against Utd because its Utd. They fail to see that Utd were asked to pull out of the FA Cup to help Englands WC Bid. It was out of Fergies hands Utd were going to play in the world club championships weather he liked it or not. Arsole Winger had alot to say at the time as always but He’d never have stopped Arsenal going because the decision came from the Top. All Football politics in the end.

  14. Scott the Red says:

    Kingabdullah – I think you’re misunderstanding the role of Keith Harris. He has been involved in the take over sales of Aston Villa, Chelsea, West Ham and City before now. It’s not a shock that he’s now having a hand in the Liverpool take over.

  15. Giles Oakley says:

    Tony Banks was a good guy. I knew him slightly from way back as he used to be an official in my union. He was always a genuine Chelsea supporter, long before it became fashionable and long before the Abramovich millions were poured in to make the club a success. Kate Hoey, who I don’t know personally, always struck me as quite dim, and very transparent in her machinations. Whereas I would have trusted Banksy not to try to shaft United over the FA Cup withdrawl, I would completely distruct Hoey, who does not have a good reputation in many ways..

  16. geneside says:

    we also need a hand from keith harris i suppose…

  17. james21 says:

    So does Orville.

  18. Dr.Hannibal says:

    Thanks scott for your vital nostalgic incident about united ..These obnoxious polticians and Fa will never succeed in harming united or its fans, we r united always. Now its power hungery cunts time to beg for world cup bid..WHAT GOES AROUND COMES ROUND ITS TRUE!! SCOTT THANKS MATE!!!

  19. geneside says:

    james 21

  20. lawman10 says:

    fergie should of told the fa to go and get fucked, after everything that set of twats have done to united over the years.
    fuck em

  21. jeet says:

    Read SAF’s version of the fiasco with the previous bid. Makes your blood boil….yes, sometimes even I feel the old man could do with a rejigged hairdryer…miss the hardness sometimes:(

  22. King Eric says:

    The 99 fiasco was a disgrace. Just shows whatr lengths the media will go to to make United look bad.

  23. Kings says:

    My first thought was 1999 and how we was hung, drawn and quartered after being ‘FORCED’ to withdraw from the FA cup, which we would have successfully defended that season. The FA are fucking cunts – one minute they are looking at fucking us over at any given opportunity, the next, they are looking to United to help Englands chances of hosting the World Cup. It is because of them, I sincerely hope that England don’t get awarded either of the Finals. Fuck them. United > England.

  24. veek says:

    i hope Russia or Spain get 2018.


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