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Ferguson distances himself from 2012 Olympics role

SoccerNews in English Premier League 25 Jul 2008

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Sir Alex Ferguson has cooled speculation linking him with a role as manager of Great Britain's football team at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Manchester United manager, speaking in Johannesburg ahead of the European and English champions' friendly clash against Kaizer Chiefs in Pretoria on Saturday, has been touted as a candidate to take charge of a Great Britain team in 2012.

However, disagreements between the football associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have led to problems with the formation of a unified British team at the Olympics.

The Scots and the Welsh, in particular, are keen to avoid weakening their individual positions within FIFA by sanctioning a Great Britain team.

And although Ferguson did not rule himself out of the running completely, he admitted that his age and the difficulties of gaining full support for such a team would make it unlikely for him to be involved.

He said: “I hope I am still on this planet in 2012 first of all! I'll be 70 years of age then, so I don't need any commitment to anything like that.

“I would not, in any way, shape or form try to commit myself to anything like that four years away. There is nothing I can really add to it.

“I'm not sure they would allow it (GB Team) anyway because countries have their own identity. It has been mooted for a number of years by FIFA at the World Cup that Great Britain has a team, so it would be impractical in that sense.

“Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, even England, they all have their own identities, so I don't think it is a starter.”

United wrap up their three-game tour of South Africa on Saturday and then immediately jet out to Nigeria for a lucrative game against FA Cup holders Portsmouth in Abuja.

The European champions are believed to be earning in the region of 1.5 million pounds as a result of travelling to Nigeria for the game and Ferguson admits that financial reasons were a factor in United accepting the offer to play in west Africa.

He said: “We have never been to Nigeria, but it was just an opportunity. You could say that it is partly financial of course. We have to take into consideration these financial invitations because we have a big operation now.

“The squad is 23-24 players now and it has to be a well run club to be able to afford all that.

“I would hope that they don't go ahead and play the Community Shield away from England, though.

“It is staged only seven days from the start of the season, so to begin thinking of going to other countries, to Nigeria, to Dubai, at that time, when you are one week away from the start of the season, is too close as far as I'm concerned.

“I think it is perfect staged at Wembley and should be kept there.”

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