Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Brown wants Sir Alex for 2012 job

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex is Gordon Brown's choice to manage a UK team

Gordon Brown has spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson about the possibility of him managing a UK football team at the 2012 Olympics, the PM has revealed.

Mr Brown said he wanted a UK team to compete at the games.

But agreement has to be reached with the different governing bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are against the idea.

Olympics organiser Lord Coe has suggested the Manchester United manager may be reluctant to take on the role.

'Unique event'

In an interview in July, Lord Coe, who is head of the London Olympics organising committee, said he had talked informally with Sir Alex about the job while stressing it was up to the British Olympic Association and the Football Association to handle the appointment.

At the time Sir Alex, a longstanding Labour supporter who will be 70 in 2012, said he would not make any commitment to something which was four years away.

But Mr Brown, a keen football fan, revealed he had also spoken to the veteran manager about the role, when he was asked at his monthly press conference about the prospects for a UK football team competing in London.

Over time people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will see the benefits of this unique sporting event that's coming to London
Gordon Brown

"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," he replied.

The challenge, he said, was getting a UK team to compete in 2012 without compromising the independence of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations.

"I think there is a way round this problem and I think a way round this problem can be found," Mr Brown added.

Among suggestions which have been floated to boost public support for the idea include hosting the first match of the tournament at Scotland's national stadium Hampden Park.

Mr Brown said he was hopeful people would come round to the idea.

"Over time people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will see the benefits of this unique sporting event that's coming to London - this unique event at which we would not have a football team represented," Mr Brown said.

He added: "Sebastian Coe and I have talked to Alex Ferguson about the possibility that he might want to be the manager."

The PM said he had also talked to Sepp Blatter, head of world football's governing body Fifa, about guaranteeing the independence of UK's different governing bodies and the "continuing representation of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland football associations in all international tournaments".

Current England manager Fabio Capello has also hinted that he might be interested in managing a UK team, saying being involved in an Olympic games would be "a dream come true".

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