Home Internationals to make a return?

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The Football Association is reported to be interested in reviving the Home Internationals tournament. The annual event saw the UK’s four international teams – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – face each other to determine the UK’s top dogs.

Vauxhall, who will today be announced as the England team’s new sponsors, are driving the deal and the motoring giant are soon expected to tie-up sponsorship deals with the three remaining home nations.

While the Scottish FA said they had not been consulted on the revival of the tournament they certainly haven't closed the door on the idea either: “It is an interesting idea and we would obviously hope to be part of any discussions should the opportunity come along.” However, The Guardian quotes an FA source who claims that discussions between the home nations have been ongoing “for some time”.

This could lead to a tournament being held from November 2012 to June 2013 – which would coincide with the FA’s 150th anniversary – although the old tournament format might be changed. No tournament will take place until after Euro 2012 as there isn’t sufficient space in the international calendar at present.

The Home Internationals competition was last held in 1984 although its latter years were dogged by problems. The 1980-81 tournament was cancelled after civil unrest in Northern Ireland as England and Wales refused to travel to Belfast. Falling attendances, hooliganism, and England’s desire to play countries they perceived to be “stronger” in preparation for World Cups and European Championships also played their part in finishing the home nations’ once proud contest.

Since then other tournaments sharing characteristics with the Home Internationals have come and gone. The Rous Cup, in existence from 1985-89, featured England, Scotland, and a South American guest team face each other while 2011’s upcoming Carling Nations Cup will see Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales face off against one another.

England remain the Home Internationals’ most successful team with 54 wins (including 20 shared victories), Scotland have 41 wins under their belt (17 shared), Wales 12 wins (five shared), and Ireland/Northern Ireland eight wins (five shared). However, the tournament’s most famous moment arguably came at Wembley in 1967 when Scotland’s 3-2 win against then world champions England saw the Scottish declare themselves unofficial world champions.

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