More on Shilliday’s Law which I take it states: ” Northern Ireland is there but you can’t find us”. That master of “Britishness”, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland no less, is the latest to prove he doesn’t quite understand the composition of the legal State. With the best of intentions, a fired-up Gordon Brown has revealed he’s cleared the ground with FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter for a “Great Britain” team to enter the 2012 Olympics:. ( Has he really now? We shall see!)
From the BBC story:
Mr Brown also stated his desire to see a Great British football team at the 2012 Olympics.
The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland football bodies have opposed any such move in case it affects their status within governing body Fifa.
Gordon Brown quotes:
“I talked to Mr Blatter about how we could find a solution to this and I am confident Fifa will give the assurances that the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Associations want.
“I am also confident that when the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland know that matches will be taking place outside London, they will approve of this idea. ( Where? At least one of them in an NI stadium perhaps?)
“We all want to see a Great Britain football team. It’s the right thing to do to have a successful Olympics.”
He added that he has spoken to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a fellow Scot, about the possibility of leading a GB football team”.
A predictably sour response came from the SNP, according to a story headlined in the Sunday Herald:
Brown determined to have UK football team at 2012 Games
The SNP said the comments were a “spectacular own goal” for Mr Brown. An SFA spokesman said: “Gordon Smith the SFA’s chief executive has spoken to the Prime Minister about Team GB, but we are unlikely to alter our position and remain opposed to the concept of a Great Britain football team.”
Politicians of all hues in GB may be confused about the name of the State but their confusion is likely to be as nothing compare to the politics of football.
Unionists and nationalists will probably agree on one thing; that however loudly Northern Ireland Union supporters (wider than “unionists”) cry: “Don’t forget us,” shared institutions and fellow citizens across the water will do precisely that: forget them, or dismiss them with a cloud of verbiage like the BOA’s..
Gordon Brown is taking responsibility for a new initiative. Let’s hold him to account.
If people want to run a campaign for “Team UK 2012”, I suggest they start with the No 10 website.
First, put the questions in his “Ask the PM” slot in “the Downing St channel” on YouTube : “How can you have a Great Britain football team which includes Northern Ireland? Would you therefore support changing the name to Team UK?”
Next, make the case in one of Downing St’s little democratic initiatives, the E-Petitions site which re-opens again on Monday week, 1st September. The press keep a close watch on this.
More widely, there’s a great non-party campaign here for someone to run to include all NI sport not affiliated to the Irish team. And bluntly, that must include a lot of Catholics. Any takers?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London