British soccer team is Brown's goal

THE Prime Minister, whose favourite soccer team is his hometown club of Raith Rovers and whose constituency also extends to Cowdenbeath - is pressing hard for a soccer team representing Great Britain to take part in the 2012 London Olympics.

Graham Dines

People in Politics column for p10 Tues dec 23

Brown's plea

for Olympics


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THE Prime Minister, whose favourite soccer team is his hometown club of Raith Rovers and whose constituency also extends to Cowdenbeath - is pressing hard for a soccer team representing Great Britain to take part in the 2012 London Olympics.

There are fears in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland that such a team could pave the way for the end of their autonomy and the establishment of a British football association.

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It will take all of Gordon Brown's negotiating skills to overcome resistance in his native Scotland. That's the reason he's asked Sir Alex Ferguson - the Glasgow-born Manchester United manager - to take charge of a British team for the competition.

It would be typically dog in the manger of the Scots to torpedo the temporary formation of a British team. They don't exactly have a brilliant track record on their own in international tournaments and the influx of overseas players to the Premiership means Scottish players are few and far between in the clubs which make up England's elite.

Not only would a Scottish veto deny the UK's top soccer players the opportunity to win Olympic gold, it would lead to near empty stadiums when the rest of the world's teams compete for international glory.

Asked at a Downing Street press conference last week what he wanted for Christmas, Mr Brown said with a smile: “That we have an Olympics team for the 2012 Olympics that is a football team from Britain. We are hosting the Olympics in 2012, but at the moment, despite the fact that football is an Olympic gold medal-winning sport, there would be no UK football team in the 2012 Olympics.”

Andy Murray represents Britain in David Cup and grand slam tennis tournaments. Just imagine what Britain could have achieved in past Olympics if teams could have been fielded with the likes of George Best and Danny Blanchflower (Northern Ireland), Alan Hansen (Scotland), John Charles (Wales) and Bobby Charlton (England) and managed by Jock Stein (Scotland) or Alf Ramsey (England).

That we are a kingdom united should mean just that in the Olympics.

SEASON'S GREETINGS: The Caribbean independent federated state of St Kitts and Nevis - population just 43,000 with the Queen as head of state - celebrated the season of goodwill last Friday by hanging Charles Elroy Laplace in Basseterre prison for the murder of his wife. The execution order was approved by the governor general

MUNICIPAL MADNESS: I've written before about the bus lane buses don't use in Duke Street, Ipswich. Last Friday when coming to work in the rush-hour, a number one route bus pulled out in front of me to avoid using the lane supposedly dedicated for public transport.

I don't know just how much this bizarre bus scheme cost council tax payers, but it's about time either the drivers of Ipswich Buses were forced to use it or that it is removed.

And while on the subject of Ipswich borough council, earlier this year it spent a fortune providing part of Turret Lane with beautiful new pavements - but left the surface of the road scarred with pot holes and resurfaced patches covering utility works.

You couldn't make it up.

Happy Christmas!

graham.dines@eadt.co.uk

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