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Friday, January 30, 2009

Ferguson dismisses Olympic role

Sir Alex Ferguson says he would not be interested in managing a Great Britain football team should one take part at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Manchester United boss did speak to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and 2012 chief Lord Coe about the job.

But he plans to retire within three years and told Inside United magazine: "I won't turn to international management. After here, I'm finished."

British Olympic bosses want to enter a team in 2012 despite major opposition.

The national governing bodies for football in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all opposed to the plan and last year Ferguson said he thought it was unlikely that a British team would be take part.

"I'm not sure they would allow it anyway, because countries have their own identity," he said.

Ferguson, who has been United manager since 1986, will be 70 in 2012.

If there was a combined British Olympic football team in London, it would be the first since 1972, when Britain failed to qualify.

The last time a Great Britain side played at the Olympics itself was in 1960.

One of the main reasons for a team not having featured in the Olympics since then is the fear it may threaten the international status of the individual national sides of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

With this in mind, the prime minister spoke to Sepp Blatter, the president of football's governing body Fifa, about the prospect of a British team in 2012.

Blatter has assured the associations that a one-off British team would not affect the status of the home nations but opposition to the plan remains very strong.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond believes the idea is a "massive own goal" and that Brown's enthusiasm for it shows he is "out of touch with Scotland".

Scotland manager George Burley insisted the Scottish Football Association (SFA) was against the idea.

"It's been black and white from day one with the SFA," said Burley.

"The national team comes first and at the moment we are keen to keep our nationality intact.

"We have to have a national Scottish team and we can't put that in jeopardy so there has been no change."

Blatter has said it might be better to enter a team featuring players only from England.

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