altPRIME MINISTER Gordon Brown (pictured) today claimed that if a British football competed at the 2012 London Olympics it would not jeopardise the independence of the Home Countries.


Brown also said that he had spoken to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson about leading the team.


Asked at his monthly press conference in Downing Street today what he wanted for Christmas, Brown replied with a smile: "That we have an Olympics team for the 2012 Olympics that is a football team from Britain."


"The issue here is very clear.


"We are hosting the Olympics in 2012, but at the moment, despite the fact that football is an Olympic gold medal-winning sport, there would be no UK football team in the 2012 Olympics."


"Sebastian Coe and I have talked to Alex Ferguson about the possibility that he might want to be the manager."


The Scottish Football Association is strongly opposed to the idea of a British football team, fearing it could damage Scotland's own team in international competition.


They have been joined by their counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland.


Michel Platini, the President of European governing body UEFA, has also supported the opposition to a united British team and warned Brown that he could be risking getting England banned from international competition if he continues to interfere.


David Collins, the secretary of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), said: “I’m glad to hear that Mr Platini has come down in our favour.


“He is expressing a view which everybody in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland holds...namely that a combined GB ream is an extremely bad thing.


“It’s very well to hear and read about supposed assurances from [FIFA President Sepp] Mr Blatter, but I can tell you categorically we have had none.


“I’ve never had a conversation with Mr  Blatter about this issue.


“What’s more, it’s not him who makes these decisions, but the FIFA congress.


"If somebody put up a motion about the abolition of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland as independent football countries, then the 208 member associations would have the say on that, not Mr Blatter.


"I accept this issue won’t go away in 2009.


"In fact, it will probably keep being raised right up until London 2012.


“But our stance hasn’t and won’t budge.


"We want nothing to do with this.


“We don’t believe we’re under any pressure, either, because the people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are fully behind their national associations.”