Brown awaits Fifa verdict on McAllister

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The Independent Online
After the three seconds in Estonia which sent their name around the globe, Scotland's prospects of a painless path to the World Cup finals may be decided in the space of four days next month, writes Phil Shaw.

On 7 November, the organising committee of Fifa, the sport's world governing body, will adjudicate on Wednesday's bizarre events in Tallinn. The statute book points to Scotland being awarded a 3-0 victory following the host nation's no-show.

However, the Estonian FA yesterday lodged a formal protest against the late rescheduling of the game. Kick-off time had been brought forward nearly four hours by the Fifa delegate after the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, expressed concern about the standard of the floodlights.

Fifa's committee will also rule on whether the "match", abandoned by the referee as soon as Scotland kicked off in the absence of any opponents, means that Gary McAllister has now served his one-game suspension. The letter from Fifa to the Scottish FA confirming the captain's ban stated that it was for "the match versus Estonia".

The need to clarify McAllister's eligibility or otherwise is pressing. Fifa is not due to discuss the situation until 72 hours before the Scots meet the Group Four favourites, Sweden, in Glasgow on 10 November. In the meantime, Brown intends to name the hugely influential midfielder in his squad.

The secretary of the Estonia federation, Ainar Lettanen, last night estimated its loss from the fixture at pounds 170,000. He put lost television revenue at pounds 100,000, with ticket refunds, security and, ironically, the cost of importing extra lighting from Finland accounting for the rest.

The Estonian media, betraying the effects of half a century spent in the Soviet Union, suspected corruption. One newspaper claimed that Scotland, with several key players injured, feared an embarrassing defeat.

If the "walkover" win is confirmed, Scotland will be top going into the Sweden game. If not, the Swedes will remain leaders of a section from which only one team qualify automatically.

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