Fifa's rulers are on the brink of granting formal approval for a Great Britain football team to compete at the London 2012 Olympic games.
Despite fierce opposition from the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - and fans of all four home nations, including England – the thorny issue is due to be discussed at a meeting of Fifa’s executive committee in Tokyo on Friday (December 19).
And world football’s governing body look certain to rule in favour of a British team competing at London 2012.
The Fifa president Sepp Blatter has already expressed his desire to have the hosts represented at the London Games - and doesn’t mind an all-English team being fielded should Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decline to take part.
A source close to Fifa has told the Press Association: “The executive committee are certain to rule in favour of a Great Britain team - but only for London 2012, not beyond.”
By 2012, it will be 52 years since a British football team has participated in the Olympics. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fear taking part in 2012 would threaten their ability to compete in future international tournaments as teams in their own right.
A Fifa spokesman said: “The subject of a Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics is on the agenda for the Fifa executive committee meeting to be held in Tokyo and will be discussed this week.”
Ken Malley, England regular and FSF executive committee member, said: “We hope Fifa listen to fans from all four home nations, as well as the Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - Team GB is not wanted.
“Team GB threatens the very existence of the English, Northern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh national teams. Whatever reassurances Fifa's executive committee give at present regarding home nations sovereignty there is no guarantee it will last. Fifa is a members organisation, and those individual members could well view this as a precedent and look to enforce it in future.
“The Olympics is a fantastic event, and the sports involved should see it as the absolute pinnacle, the football world won't take it seriously enough.”