United Kingdom national team not so united

The stage seemed set for London 2012 with the English FAs recent proposal to field an all UK national football team receiving considerable amount of attention. However, the FAs of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales want nothing to do with it. One of the perceived dangers, according to SFA president George Peat, is that this team would signal the unification of all FAs into a Great Britain League.

The other issue is the presumption that the full squad will be dominated by an all-English roster & coaching staff, with the exception of the rumored Scottish manager, Alex Ferguson. It’s still too early to tell who will fill the U23 lineup as many unknown youth players are expected to emerge in the coming years.

While these non-English concerns are understandable, some facts may present a different reality. The Scottish Premier League’s newly found investment in youth programs has brought a surge of promising young talent. Scotland’s recent success and England’s failure at qualifying for the U20 World Cup in Canada gives the former a reasonable chance at filling the U23 squad. Even if the allowed “3 mature players” (over the age of 23) turn out to be English, the FA would not risk antagonizing support for this team around the UK by selecting an all-English squad.

It is also unlikely for an all-British League to be suddenly formed from this. An all-British national team is not a new occurrence, as they competed in the Olympic Games under this guise from 1900-72. George Peat wants people to believe there’s a conspiracy. But in spite of nationalistic sentiment, this should be seen as an attempt to restore an old footballing tradition by unifying the the remaining FA’s in the UK.


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