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From the mind that recently showed the world (well, this forum at least) a reformatted South American World Cup Qualifiers and expanded UEFA Champions League, and not yet shown the world moneymakers such as NFL pre-season tournaments and drunk basketball league, comes a (currently purely hypothetical) proposal which you could probably piece together just by the title and the category this topic is in.
So the concept, at its core, stems from this, to 'fill the gap' of sorts and have an international team to play under the flag and identity of Great Britain / United Kingdom, with the lack of Great Britain football teams at the Olympic Games being the main 'cause' that such a thing should aim to promote (obviously not as important an issue as some of the things that ConIFA members are fighting for, but something to exist for regardless).
I would be near the front of the queue to complain if such a team was interpreted as an attempt to replace the Home Nations, which would be why the hypothetical team (and accompanying FA) would take on a name clearly defining the intention to show a Great Britain team that can operate simultaneously (in a secondary manner) to the traditional Home Nations, like Sapmi with the countries it covers. So on first attempt I came up with the name 'Great Britain Supplementary Football Association' (GBSFA), or 'Supp GB' in its social media-friendly form.
Now to condense the post a little, the basics of some random ideas I've had to outline the concept:
- The scope of the FA - to participate not only in the 'traditional' forms of football, but to try and get GB teams in more unconventional settings, so any kind of football variant would be fair game.
- Domestic front - a 'GB Open Cup' club competition to serve as a
profit generatorfund-raiser through sponsors/registration fees? Also maybe a lottery of some kind .
- Potential players - open-ended (ties into my question from a couple of weeks ago).
- Player 'nationality' - using Olympic team eligibility (without age restriction) as the starting point, players qualifying for any of the following would be eligible for Supp GB, with possible exceptions to allow Bermuda/Cayman Islands etc. to join the list.
- Opponents - team should ideally be flexible enough to be able to range from playing a FIFA member at its high point to taking on a micronation on the other end of the spectrum, partly on non-restrictive idealism and partly to try and prove it can be done, although just keeping all those options open would probably be good enough.
- Player recruitment - could naturally be a similar situation to opponents, as the above would potentially lend itself to going from professional-level players one match to 'anyone with a passport' in the next (or vice-versa). Obviously winning is the aim for every match but would there be any consequences (political/reputational) from being that open-minded about who plays and against what, even if they are all friendlies?
I just find it surprising that no-one seems to have tried anything like it before, but obviously the points I made are a bit rough around the edges. So key questions are:
- Is it possible to be gimmicky and serious at the same time? The way I see it, without FIFA membership or a 'worthy' cause (not that I think it's unworthy, but there would be some negativity against it), you can either go through the motions and aim to be successful with the very best players that you can find (more on that below) in what could be a very low-profile and potentially expensive approach, or try and make use of the resources available in a big nation and attempt a balance of competitiveness and attention.
Tapping into the current trend of 'YouTube footballers', there would probably a lot of them who would jump at the chance to make a video of an 'international call-up', is it devaluing the effort if they can bring in a few million views (potentially raising profile of the GB team, the opponents, the respective causes, etc.) compared with an equally-skilled non-YouTuber? Could the same theory apply to 'auctioning' a place in a squad to the highest bidder?
And as much as I think he deserves a chance on the international stage, if one of the first call-ups was for Adebayo Akinfenwa would the quick headlines outweigh the 'prestige' of it all even if he was one of the team's best players?
- What would be the hypothetical 'ceiling' be for realistically calling up players? This on the basis of the players only doing so for national pride / exposure (and maybe the match payment of a biscuit afterwards), so no money and they might have talk things over with their club to gain release... although no such limits on retired club players (recently or otherwise). Not quite comparable but Panjab have used players from the 5th/6th tier of English football.
- Potential coaches? Ideally you want someone British, worldly, experienced, a lot of free time, looking for some kind of redemption... Roy Hodgson? Glenn Hoddle? Wee Gordon?
- Political stuff - while it should ideally be a self-sustaining operation, carrying the name and flag of Great Britain might naturally draw some attention for the wrong reasons (like that China/Tibet/Greenland/Denmark incident), however clearly it is stressed that the team does not nessecarily represent the views of its country. For example, I would have no problem with Supp GB playing a match against Chagos Islands, but would the world's newest power couple (Donresa? Theronald?) see things the same way, and would they have any kind of ability to stop it?
- And lastly - How do you actually set up an FA?
Any other comments/suggestions welcome, obviously this idea's only been in my head for a few months so I've just laid out a mess of my random collected thoughts on it here for judgement to be passed (and partly for my 'D-grade in law' way of claiming ownership of the concept). If this falls flat I'm dumping the idea and throwing myself behind drunk basketball instead...