Team GB's hopes of fielding an all-United Kingdom team at the London 2012 Olympics were dealt a blow yesterday when, amid scenes that bordered on the farcical, the British Olympic Association (BOA) announced that players from all the home nations would be available for selection thanks to a "historic" deal made with the Football Association.
The only snag being that the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish associations, who feel such an agreement would affect their status as independent nations within Fifa, angrily professed themselves to be unaware of any such deal.
The BOA said that "the FA has consulted with its partner associations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in developing the player-selection criteria and timeline". The FA general secretary, Alex Horne, was quoted as thanking the other FAs for their "understanding". A flurry of angry reactions ensued.
The Former Scottish Football Association president George Peat was "absolutely astounded", while the Welsh FA president, Phil Pritchard, was equally irate. "The FA have no authority to speak on our behalf – they do not represent Wales whatsoever and that's a fact," he said.
The dissenting nations later released a statement of their own. "We cannot support nor formally endorse the approach that has been proposed by the Football Association," it read. "We have stressed this in communications to them and are disappointed this has been ignored in the media release. No discussions took place with any of us, far less an historic agreement reached."