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Coe holds talks with Fergie over Great Britain Olympic job

SoccerNews in English Premier League 14 May 2008

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Sebastian Coe revealed Wednesday that he has held talks with Alex Ferguson to try and persuade the Manchester United manager to coach a British football team at the 2012 London Olympics.

Coe, the chairman of the London organising committee for the Games, declined to reveal if the Scot was interested.

“I would love to see Alex coach the team,” Coe told Sky Sports.

“I can't think of anybody that frankly (more) deserves at the end of a stunning career to be in charge of young players here.

He added: “I've spoken to Alex. We know each other. We're good friends.”

But there remains considerable doubt as to whether a truly British, as opposed to English team, will take part at the 2012 Games.

Not since 1972, when an amateur side was selected for the qualifying tournament, has Britain had an Olympic football team.

The main stumbling block has been the refusal of the Scottish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales to allow their players to play for such a side.

Both governing bodies are fearful that the creation of a British team, even solely for the purposes of an Olympic Games, could pave the way for world football governing body FIFA to strip all four 'home nations' (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) of their independent status.

At present this guarantees all four countries can field international teams and have voting rights within FIFA.

Scottish and Welsh concerns were strengthened by remarks made in March by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who said: “If you start to put together a combined team for the Olympic Games the question will automatically come up that there are four different associations so how can they play in one team?

“If this is the case then why the hell do they have four associations and four votes and their own vice-presidency?

“This will put into question all the privileges that the British associations have been given by the (FIFA) Congress in 1946.”

Coe, a double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist, maintained he was still keen on drawing in talent from all four countries.

“I clearly want the best players – wherever they come from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England – to be there. But I also recognise it is an issue for the individual football associations and the door is open.”

The venues for the 2012 Olympic football tournament are currently limited to England, with Wembley, Old Trafford, St James' Park, and Villa Park all set to stage matches.

Cow, who said he would “love” to include Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and Glasgow's Hampden Park on the list of venues, added there would be no further lobbying for a change of mind on the part of Welsh and Scots officials.

“I'm not going to get sleepless nights over it,” he said.

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