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Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 15:12 UK

'Four Nations' plan faces delay

Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland hope to begin the competition in 2011

Plans for a Four Nations tournament involving Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Republic of Ireland have been put back because of fixture congestion.

Fixtures already in place for the next two years mean the competition will not be able to become part of the football calendar until 2011.

However, plans to play Four Nations matches in February and May in future seasons were given the go-ahead.

Representatives from England did not feature in the latest discussions.

The 'Celtic Cup' style tournament was initially set to begin in 2009 but with the 2010 World Cup qualifiers already in place, there was little prospect of the tournament beginning until 2011 for practical reasons.

The tournament would be held in one country on a rotational tournament-by-tournament basis with two games being played on match-days.


It was also agreed that the respective international team managers would have a meaningful competition in which to assess players.

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.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith
Smith said the tournament would be held every two years

Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith said he hoped the tournament would be played every two years.

Speaking on BBC Scotland's Sportsound, he said: "We're looking at having a tournament where we all play each other, so it's three games.

"And we're looking at having one game in February and two in May to tie up the tournament and have a winner established.

"The tournament is every two years, played biannually."

Smith added that the competition did not, as yet, have an official title.

"That might depend on if a sponsor comes in," he added.

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.

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.

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

see also
PM eager for home internationals
22 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Scots eye summer England fixture
12 Nov 07 |  Internationals

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