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Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Tuesday, 27 November 2007

'Celtic Cup' set to start in 2009

Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland have agreed the deal

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have agreed "in principle" to play a series of three biennial "Celtic Cup" tournaments.

An agreement signed on Monday commits the countries to arranging the tournaments on a league basis.

Home and away games will be rotated from one tournament to the next with each team playing three matches in each of the competitions.

England have not ruled themselves out of the competition.

It had been widely assumed that England would not participate, with the Football Association looking to generate greater income from summer tours and lucrative friendlies.


But an FA spokesman told BBC Sport: "We will just have to wait and see where our involvement lies next year and beyond."

The FA had been planning on the basis of England qualifying for the finals of Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland - and the spokesman added: "There is no Plan B for next summer at the moment. Everything is up in the air."

England's defeat by Croatia, following the failures of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, triggered calls for the sides to face each other in 2008.

But the FA is unlikely to make any decision on its plans for next summer until their delegation, including chief executive Brian Barwick, returns from South Africa at the end of the week following the draw for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

The failure of the four British sides to reach Euro 2008 is the first time since 1994 that no home nations have qualified for a major tournament.

Scotland battled valiantly but finished third in a group including Italy and France, while Northern Ireland's fate was sealed when they were beaten in Spain on Wednesday.

Wales's campaign was in tatters after a string of early defeats.

Meanwhile, commercial arrangements and fixture dates are now being finalised for the Celtic Cup.

The old Home Championship, which included England but not the Republic of Ireland, was staged every year until 1984.

But matches between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were eventually scrapped because of increasing fixture congestion.

Last week Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would welcome the revival of home internationals to ease the pain of Euro 2008 misery for the four home nations.

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see also
PM eager for home internationals
22 Nov 07 |  Internationals
England 2-3 Croatia
21 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Spain 1-0 Northern Ireland
21 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Scots eye summer England fixture
12 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Wales 0-2 Germany
08 Sep 07 |  Welsh
Scotland 1-2 Italy
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals

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