BOA chairman expects top clubs to embrace Olympics

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The Independent Online

Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, is convinced the country's top football clubs will embrace London 2012.

The proximity of next year's Olympic football tournament to the start of the 2012-13 domestic season is likely to be a concern for a number of managers.

With some players possibly on international duty at Euro 2012 from June 8 to July 1 and then the Olympics from July 26 to August 11, the potential for club-versus-country rows is obvious.

The matter is more pertinent than for past Olympics with Great Britain due to field a side in the Games for the first time since 1960.

Moynihan told Press Association Sport: "I think for the clubs there will be a growing interest.

"It will put the names of their under-23 players firmly on the map.

"I think the Football Association will work very closely with the clubs to make sure they are engaged and see the benefits of their players being part of the Olympic Games.

"The public are massively behind the Games and I anticipate that because it is principally an under-23 tournament, the clubs will recognise that the visibility of their players in the Games will add value to them and their clubs."

Moynihan believes British football can learn lessons from different sports and other countries in dealing with the matter.

He said: "We have a similar issue in cycling where we have the professional circuit and the Tour de France, and British Cycling saying success for our cyclists at the Olympics is our number one priority.

"The professional circuit and the tours benefit from those riders coming forward and getting success at the Olympic Games.

"I think that will happen in football.

"It already does internationally, in South America and particularly Brazil and Argentina.

"It is a stepping stone towards World Cup success. It is a platform those countries place massive priority behind when it comes to developing world-class talent.

"I think we can learn from that."

Moynihan also has no doubt the public will embrace the Olympic football tournament despite the under-23 element restricting the number of top-class players available.

The event will be played at six stadia around Britain, at Wembley, the Millennium Stadium, Hampden Park, Old Trafford, St James' Park and the Ricoh Arena.

Moynihan said: "The public really relates to players who aren't necessarily making the headlines today, but may well do so during the Olympic Games.

"That is good news for the players and the clubs.

"I think there will be a momentum building towards the Olympic Games and Team GB."