Sports Letter: Problem solved

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The Independent Online
Sir: Two short items on your sports pages raised my hackles at the recent decision of the FA to give Manchester United the chance to withdraw from the FA Cup. I see that, in rugby, Leicester and Northampton will play their traditionally hard-fought derby on 11 September without any of their international players and, moreover, will be without them until mid-November because of the Rugby World Cup. By contrast, the re-arranged Ireland Euro 2000 qualifier against Yugoslavia on 1 September was seen as adding to Manchester United's fixture problems as they would be without Denis Irwin and Roy Keane.

When teams like United (Arsenal and Chelsea too) have first-team squads with team numbers up to the high 30s, and many of the players are high quality internationals, surely it is not beyond reason to insist that the practice of postponing matches at the time of international games, at least, should be stopped. Throughout the cricket season county teams play on in two separate leagues without a whimper while their best players turn out for England and clearly the same is about to happen in rugby.

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