Director of external affairs makes presentation to Manchester UnitedCurrent FA Cup holders Manchester United took receipt of their record equalling twelfth replica trophy ahead of their third round meeting with Reading earlier this month, and it fell to United’s Director of External Affairs John Nixon – current chairman of the FA Cup committee – to hand over the three-quarter sized memento of the achievement.
Club legend Sir Bobby Charlton and Old Trafford’s Executive Vice President Edward Woodward accepted the trophy ahead of a home victory which the Premier League giants hope will set them on the way to more success in the competition this year.
Speaking about the presentation this week, Mr Nixon explained: “The FA Cup Committee is always chaired by someone from the either the Premier League or the EFL, on a year-by-year rotation.
“It was the EFL’s turn to take up the position this season and it was an honour for me to be asked to become chairman of the committee, on their behalf, back in August. The role of the committee is to oversee and run the competition, all the way from the preliminary qualification rounds through to the final.
“For example, if any issues such as floodlight failures or use of unregistered substitutes arise we deal with them and make decisions based on the evidence presented. People talk about the magic of the FA Cup and it’s something I’ve seen first hand at every level now, having taken up this position.
“Every club just wants to progress to the next round and stay involved for as long as they can. Financially it can be quite lucrative for some of the smaller teams in the earlier rounds, so there’s that to factor in as well.
“On top of governance of the competition itself we are also responsible for the organisation of the draws, from the first qualifying round to the semi-finals, which includes looking at who does them and where they’re done, in conjunction with BT Sport and the BBC.”
“One of the pleasant duties which came up with the role of Chairman was to present a replica of the FA Cup to the current holders, Manchester United,” he continued. “Every winner gets one of these each season, and it’s generally a presentation which takes place on or around the date of their first game in the following season’s competition. That meant a home game against Reading was an ideal time for it to take place.
“It was interesting when I went along to Old Trafford to hear the amount of discussion about the fact they are now joint record holders with Arsenal, having won the competition 12 times. There’s a determination there for them to go on and make the record their own this season.
“They made a great start by winning the game, but I know they were all really pleased to see Jaap Stam [manager of Reading FC] again because of the service he had given to the club.”
“I have to say it was an honour to make the presentation on behalf of the FA, but I always had one eye on what was happening at Colchester,” he confirmed. “I watched as the scores came through on my phone and I caught the last bit of the game on Radio Cumbria as I travelled back up north. It was disappointing not to be at the Colchester game in the first place and even more disappointing that it wasn’t a positive result.
“However, having now been to a club as big as Manchester United on an FA Cup match day I can say with complete confidence that the competition holds the same level of excitement and expectation as it does for clubs at every other level.
“Inevitably we will see squad rotation, because they’re involved in a number of competitions, but they still very much want to win it and they put out a team which they think will comfortably see them through each round. To be fair, it was a very strong side, with Wayne Rooney equalling a club record, so there was no doubt they were taking it very seriously indeed.”
“Being chairman of the committee means I will end up going to the FA Cup final this season,” he concluded. “It’s a fascinating insight into how one of the most respected competitions in the world operates and it’s good to be involved in many of the decision making processes.
“Hopefully we’ll see another exciting competition, with plenty of twists and turns, and it’ll be interesting to see if anyone can stop either Manchester United or Arsenal from taking their win tally to thirteen.”