Manchester [UK], January 8 (ANI): Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed has purchased the "oldest surviving piece of FA Cup silverware" at an auction, the club announced on Friday.
It was also the first trophy won by Manchester City 116 years ago in the 1904 FA Cup final, when the club beat Bolton Wanderers 1-0, becoming the first professional football club from the city of Manchester to win a major honour.
"City are delighted to announce we are now the proud custodian of the 1896-1910 Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) following the recent purchase of the trophy at auction by Club owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed," the club said in a statement.
"It was originally feared that the trophy -- considered by The Arts Council to be an item of International Historic Significance -- would be privately purchased and taken overseas. However, the trophy will now remain in England for the benefit of English football. A forerunner of the FA Cup in use today, the trophy is one of the most significant artefacts in world football and the oldest surviving piece of FA Cup silverware in England," it added.
The club said, in line with Sheikh Mansour's wishes, the trophy has been offered on loan to the National Football Museum in Manchester, where it has been housed since 2005. "The intention is to keep the trophy accessible for football fans in Manchester and across the country to visit and enjoy. The National Football Museum has accepted the offer and the creation of a new presentation display is underway, to be completed ahead of the museum's reopening once current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted," the club said.
Commenting on the trophy and its purchase by Sheikh Mansour, club chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, in a statement, said: "This Cup is a visible reminder of the rich and long history of English football to which Manchester City is inextricably entwined. Winning this actual trophy in 1904 was a turning point for the club and for the city of Manchester in that it firmly cemented football in the heart of its community.
"Sheikh Mansour's view is that a trophy of such cultural significance must be shared with the people of Manchester, the English football family, and all of those who love the English game. The National Football Museum is in a unique position to do that."
FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham said: "This is wonderful news. Our sincere thanks go to His Highness Sheikh Mansour and Manchester City for ensuring the oldest surviving FA Cup will remain in this country and on view for all who visit the National Football Museum. The FA Cup holds a special place in the hearts of many football fans. Not just in England but across the whole world, and this trophy is an enduring symbol of its wonderful history and heritage. With this November marking the 150th anniversary since the FA Cup began in 1871, this is a fitting way to start the commemorations of such an important milestone." (ANI)