How Gentlemen Became Rogues over Agreement; Brown Ponders Men for No 2 Job

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 2, 2000 | Go to article overview

How Gentlemen Became Rogues over Agreement; Brown Ponders Men for No 2 Job


Byline: FRASER MACKIE

SCOTLAND will go into bat early this year to argue Craig Brown's case for playing Ipswich Town striker David Johnson in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers - and victory would have far-reaching ramifications for the home nations.

The international committees of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will meet to discuss the abolition of the February 1993 agreement which prevented Brown from fielding controversial pick Johnson in the Euro 2000 play-off ties against the Auld Enemy.

Despite meeting all FIFA criteria, the fact that Johnson's natural mother was English meant that Scotland would have broken the 1993 rule by fielding him at Hampden or Wembley.

The regulation stated that, if the player has a connection with one of the home nations, then that is the only one he can play for.

But the SFA are continuing to investigate suggestions that the English Under-16 side poached a youngster born in Australia with Scottish parentage.

Leeds United midfielder Jamie McMaster, who was being coached by Scotland youth coach Ross Mathie, was encouraged by his club to play in a competitive youth game for England - ignoring his Scottish background.

McMaster's parents left Dundee for Australia 22 years ago and the teenager returned to Britain to sign for Leeds after a spell at the Australian Institute of Sport.

The SFA are angry and surprised that England are the nation to have reneged on the agreement, considering the wealth of talent that should be available to them.

If this is a precedent and the 1993 rule is abolished, Scotland will be able to select any uncapped player holding a British passport.

Brown said: 'The next we will hear about it is when the international board meets in February.

'Our people will raise the issue of the February 1993 agreement. It was back then we agreed that, if you had a connection with one of the home countries, that was the only one you could play with.

'But England have already broken it. The lad Jamie McMaster was taken away from our Under-16 side to play for Leeds and ended up playing for England.

'Now, if McMaster turns out to be the new Michael Owen, we would feel aggrieved.

'That's not to say he would play with Scotland, but he was with Ross Mathie at the time and then England played him in a competitive match. In other words, they may, maybe not deliberately, have broken the agreement. Our people will say, what's the situation?

'I was told by FIFA that David Johnson was totally eligible and twice I called his club manager George Burley and he told me he was totally eligible.

'But I was assuming that FIFA were aware of our home countries agreement and apparently they weren't.

'I did not think I could get any higher authority than FIFA so if we play David Johnson tomorrow they would not complain and if we played him at Wembley, there would not have been a problem with FIFA. …

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