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Lions, Leeks, Thistles and Clover!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 18/12/2002

ENGLAND, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales may be forced to play as the United Kingdom if a proposal to be discussed at the Fifa meeting in Qatar next October is taken seriously.

Although the paper is a discussion document only, experience has shown that these things usually go ahead particularly if Sepp Blatter has anything to do with it and he has no reason to like the FA.

The discussion paper is to decide if member countries have to be members of the UN and if that happens then the four home countries will be seen as one which means the end of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales playing in international competitions.

Instead, there will be one team. Either Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

The problem is that the footballing developing nations would be expected to support the motion if it is presented as a formal proposal, causing havoc in the UK with 4 different football associations.

It may also have an effect on the football league. If there is to be one nation, then the suggestion that there should be a UK league instead of 4 separate leagues may be revived and we could see a league with maybe 7 or 8 divisions. Fifa may well in fact enforce that.

A nightmare for football administrators.

There have already been some suggestions that the 4 home countries play a knockout to see which one would represent the UK in each particular competition.

Whatever the outcome of these discussions, if things go the usual way, the English FA will be slow to react and be ill prepared to defend the current arrangement. They have never shown any willingness in the past to stand up to either EUFA or FIFA. They will of course object strongly after the horse has bolted!

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