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Sir Alex admits: I wanted to use obscure FA rule in order to avoid a replay
• Rare law could have seen extra-time played against Spurs
• Ferguson desperate not to add congestion to United's fixture list



Sir Alex Ferguson has failed with a contentious and unprecedented scheme to guarantee Manchester United's FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur does not go to a replay. Ferguson had tried to exploit a little-known law in the competition guidelines to make sure the game would be settled in one match, despite acknowledging that it would open the club to allegations of "not adhering to the principles of the FA Cup or the spirit of it".

Ferguson was so desperate to avoid adding another game to United's fixture list he had tried to instigate talks with Tottenham about taking advantage of the Football Association's Rule 11a, which stipulates that a game can go into extra-time rather than replays providing the clubs agree in advance.

The rule was introduced more than 50 years ago to spare amateur clubs the travelling and administrative costs from playing replays in the preliminary rounds. No professional club has ever applied it but Ferguson was alerted by a newspaper column written by the former referee *Graham Poll. Despite admitting it would be widely construed as denigrating the competition, the United manager immediately instructed his chief executive, David Gill, to approach Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy.

Those talks never materialised once Gill ascertained from the FA that the application had to be made within a week of the draw, but that information had not reached Ferguson yesterday.

"Someone has informed me I could apply to the FA to have extra-time," he said. "It's an interesting one. I've never heard of this in my life. But it's always been there [in the rules]. It's in the *articles of the association that both teams can apply to have the game decided [in one game] and notify the referee before the game."

United were widely criticised for *pulling out of the FA Cup in 1999 to take part in the World Club Cup in Brazil, and Ferguson said he was aware the club would be accused of undermining the competition's traditions again, albeit on a smaller scale.

"The criticism would be that we're not adhering to the principles of the FA Cup or the spirit of it – but why have the FA got it [the rule] in there? It is their problem. It's their fault, really. We will investigate it."

Ferguson had intended to make a personal request to Harry Redknapp on the basis that Tottenham, like United, are in the midst of a fixture pile-up because of their involvement in four competitions. Redknapp has openly admitted he will play his "weakest team" at Old Trafford with Tuesday's league game against Stoke City in mind, but he made it clear he would have rejected Ferguson's approach. "I wouldn't try to change the traditions of the FA Cup," he said.

Although Ferguson has been unable to implement the rule on this occasion, yesterday's events make it highly likely that more clubs will explore the possibilities of trying to avoid replays. The irony is that United will find it particularly difficult to persuade opponents to agree. Tottenham, for example, would bank £160,000 from a televised replay, and would also have the revenue of an almost guaranteed sell-out crowd. As Ferguson acknowledged: "If you take a small club like Southend and they came up here and got a draw, you would be denying them the chance to make money in the replay."

His argument about game, however, is that the demands of the fixture list have contributed to him losing up to a dozen players through injury. His defence is particularly affected, with *Darren Fletcher lined up as an emergency right-back in case Gary Neville is unavailable. Fabio da Silva could make his debut at left-back.

"There have been nothing but games in January for us," Ferguson complained. "We talk about why managers for years and years have wanted a winter break and that's the very reason why you'd love to have one – to get rid of all the strains they [the players] carry right through December and January. But it's not to be, and the result is that the strains become injuries and the players miss games. That's the position we are in."

An FA spokesman said last night: "Replays are a significant part in the fabric and tradition of the FA Cup."
 
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That was funny reading that article since that rule is used in non-league football quite a lot.
The rule is there for exactly the same reason as stated...to avoid travelling costs and admin fees...that could possibly cripple a small club with gates of around 250 or so. It's up to the two teams involved to decide between them beforehand.

There's quite a few old rules that can apply in cup matches and are often used in the preliminary rounds, unheard of by professional clubs and never used before by them.

The same rule applies all the way to (and including) the final as well.

Got to hand it to Fergie though for getting the information and literally trying to play by 'the rules'.. :D ;)

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Ferguson challenges Cup rules

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has challenged the Football Association after discovering a rule allowing clubs to avoid a possible FA Cup replay.

The FA have confirmed the rule which permits clubs to play extra time straight away in the event of a draw after 90 minutes.

Ferguson immediately tried to invoke the rule for their FA Cup tie with Tottenham on Saturday but was unsuccessful because both clubs have to inform the FA within seven days of being drawn against each other.

The United boss insists the club will investigate the rule despite admitting he will come under criticism.
Investigate

"It is in the articles of the Association that both teams can apply to have the first game decided first time," Ferguson told The Sun.

"The criticism would be we are not adhering to the principles and spirit of the FA Cup.

"But why have the FA got it in there? It is their problem. We will investigate it."

The FA could also face legal action from TV companies who have paid substantial amounts of money to screen Cup matches.

An FA spokesman added: "This rule is aimed at the preliminary rounds to help teams with geographical distances."

http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,13864_4841020,00.html
 

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Yes, but you're supposed to inform the FA at least 7 days before the Cup tie.

And although it's in the rules, I doubt the FA would agree to it.
 

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I would be great if such a break would be made cause injuries would be avoided. Well at least not have the same big nr. But the FA will never change it. It's an English tradition and it makes England special cause every country has a break even a short one.
 

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ALEX FERGUSON has triggered a row that could turn into the biggest threat ever to face the FA Cup.

The Manchester United boss discovered a 128-year-old law that means replays can be avoided — and immediately tried to invoke it for today’s fourth-round clash against Spurs.

The barely-known rule states clubs that draw their first game after 90 minutes can play extra time straight away — and not wait for a replay.

Fergie dismissed claims he was meddling with history. He argued: “It is in the articles of the Association that both teams can apply to have the game decided first time.

“The criticism would be we are not adhering to the principles and spirit of the FA Cup.

“But why have the FA got it in there? It is their problem. We will investigate it.”

The FA confirmed the rule exists but TV companies will take legal action if anyone tries to make it happen.

Fergie’s bid to invoke the rule against Spurs failed because both clubs have to inform the FA within seven days of being drawn against each other.

Setanta Sports and ITV forked out £425m for a four-year deal to cover the FA Cup and England home matches.

A Setanta source said: “We agreed a contract which gives us full access to each round and replays.

“We were not made aware of any loophole involving replays. If our coverage was cut back we would mount a legal challenge.”

An FA spokesman said: “This rule is aimed at the preliminary rounds to help teams with geographical distances.”


http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/article2167135.ece
 

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Its a genius cat outta the bag by Fergie really IMO!!

I had to laugh at this though! :p


It's their fault, really. We will investigate it."
....United investigating the FA....LMAO!!!
 

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Didn't have much of a chance since the match is at Old Trafford as well. It would have been interesting if Fergie did this if the match was at White Hart Lane, then
Spurs might have agreed to it.
 

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Various newspapers have – with differing levels of hysteria – tried to suggest that the Club supports invoking Article 11a of the FA Cup regulations in order to avoid having to fulfil replay fixtures. This is totally untrue.

The Club has never had asked opponents to play extra time instead of a replay – and has no intention of ever doing so.

The Manager’s comments – which do not state that he either wished to or intended to invoke the rule – came after being asked about an article in yesterday morning’s paper by the former FIFA referee Graham Poll. He made clear he knows the value of replays to clubs.

It makes good copy for the newspapers, but for those of us in the real world, it is nothing more than an academic discussion. Manchester United is proud to have won the FA Cup more times than any other club in history and the only way the Club will seek to avoid replays is by winning matches.

Communications Department, 24 January 2009

You can read Sir Alex's quotes on this subject in a separate Football News story.

You can also watch a free video clip from the press conference on MUTV Online.

http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={F9E570E6-407E-44BC-800F-4A3110258114}&newsid=6625825
 
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