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Football: TREACHERY: Fergie should forget seat on United board says Edwards.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON'S dream of a lifetime job at Manchester United has been shattered by chairman Martin Edwards.

The Old Trafford manager has never made any secret of his desire to move upstairs at the end of his dug-out days.

But Ferguson's ambition for a behind-the-scenes role when his contract expires in 2002 has been undermined by Edwards in a surprise statement.

The chairman's comments may even tempt the club's most successful boss to think about his own future before the issue is forced in three years.

Edwards suggests Ferguson should sever his ties with the club because he fears a repeat of what happened with Sir Matt Busby. Busby hung around when his managerial days were over and future bosses like Wilf McGuinness, Frank O'Farrell and Tommy Docherty lived in his shadow.

Edwards does not want a repeat and said in United's official magazine yesterday: "If he is still there in the background with all the success he has had, is it going to be a comfort or a hindrance to any successor?

"Is that something that Sir Alex wants? It would be difficult for him to be there without actually feeling a need to be involved. He is a hands-on person and I think it would be difficult for him to resist that.

"We have three years to think about it and he will have a view on it and we will have a view on it nearer the time."

Ferguson, however, will want answers sooner than that.The public show of division comes after months of rumblings behind closed doors. Friends of the shrewd Scot have felt for some time that the split between manager and chairman would reach breaking point.

Ferguson wanted money spent in the summer but was unable to offer the salaries needed to attract world stars like Rivaldo.

Ferguson also wants the pay structure to be shattered to keep Roy Keane at the club, but United will only pay him within their budget.

But the biggest strain on their relationship will come when Edwards assumes the position of plc chairman, a move that is imminent.

The United manager has just made a fortune from a testimonial and could take a top job abroad for one final massive pay day, Real Madrid being one of a number of clubs who have been interested in the past.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Nixon, Alan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 22, 1999
Words:392
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