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British PM backs return of Home Nations championship

22 November 2007 22:02

LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Thursday he would favour the return of the Home Nations tournament after all four British sides failed to reach the 2008 European Championships.

It is the first time since the 1994 World Cup that none of the British sides have qualified for a major international tournament.

The British Home Championship was held annually between England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland until 1984.

It was abandoned due to fan misbehaviour, civil unrest in Belfast, fixture congestion, poor attendance and England's desire to play against "stronger" teams.

But with the Home Nations having nothing to do at the end of the season, Brown lent his support to the idea of bringing the tournament back.

The 56-year-old Scotsman said it was desperately disappointing that no British teams would play in next year's tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

"In some cases, that's down to bad luck. In some, it's bad results," he said.

"We have the Olympics to look forward to next summer. I know every football fan in Britain was looking forward to a summer of football next year, so it's very disappointing.

"I know some people have called for a one-off revival next year of the home internationals.

"That's something for the football associations and clubs to consider. I would certainly enjoy that.

"I have got great memories from the 1960s and 1970s. But that is a decision for the football associations and clubs."

The British Home Championship was the world's first international football competition. It was first contested between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the 1883-1884 season.

Northern Ireland won the centenary and last tournament in 1983-1984.

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