Friday, April 01, 2011

SFA: Peat Eyes Top FIFA Job

It appears we might not be shot of him yet.

As George Peat's tenure as SFA chairman enters its final few months, amid ongoing controversy, he has emerged as a realistic contender to challenge Sepp Blatter in the forthcoming FIFA presidential elections.

Although a divisive figure in Scotland, Peat's candidacy could find favour in the broader footballing world.

Already the other three home nations have fallen behind the former Airdrie man.

Northern Ireland and Wales see a successful bid from Peat as offering the most satisfactory end to damaging debates about a British team competing at the Olympics.

The English FA have come on board after Peat, supported by UEFA General Secretary David Taylor, persuaded them that a home nations president - the first since Sir Stanley Rous left the post in 1974 - was the best way of ridding the governing body of the anti-English sentiment that soured England's recent World Cup bid.

Sources within the SFA and FA refused to confirm that Peat may also have left a possible deal over an English World Cup in 2026 on the table.

Taylor's influence has also helped soothe Peat's passage to world football's top job inside UEFA where the SFA president's tact and diplomacy are far more admired than they are in Scotland.

Peat's age and lack of enemies in the wider football world have convinced UEFA chief Michel Platini that the Scotsman can serve as a viable anti-Blatter candidate.

A gentleman's agreement will see Peat transfer his support to Platini ahead of the next elections.

Although Mohamed bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, was set to formally announce his own candidacy today it now seems he will step aside to back Peat.

The Qatari is keen to build relationships across the footballing world ahead of what is predicted to be a controversial build up to the 2022 World Cup.

He has also been persuaded that a pooling of Asia and Europe's resources in a united campaign for Peat will neutralise the financial strength of Blatter's FIFA-backed re-election bid.

Bin Hammam will delegate Asian football's chief strategist Cancan Hick Fee Gnu to co-ordinate a global campaign that will stress both Peat's capacity to unify the game and trade on lingering resentments over Blatter's turbulent time in charge.

The monetary clout of a joint campaign will also allow Peat's supporters to buy favour around the world. The home nations are already on standby to rethink their international friendly strategies should they be called on to make goodwill visits to countries who fall into line behind Peat's presidential bid.

The promotion of George Peat as a unity candidate will raise eyebrows in Scotland where his SFA term has been dogged by division and controversy, most recently in a series of damaging run-ins with Celtic.

It is believed that Stewart Regan, chief executive of the SFA, formulated the idea for Peat's presidential bid after discussions with Neil Doncaster, his SPL counterpart.

Both men believe that the dual benefits of added influence at FIFA and the removal of Peat from domestic football will allow them to concentrate fully on rebuilding the Scottish game.

It seems the dinosaur might not yet be extinct.

FIFA's elections will be held on June 1st in Zurich's Alp Fir Solo Conference Centre.