The IFA should push for a home-nations tournament this summer to help make up for the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup, one life-long Northern Ireland fan has suggested.
Don Woolsey, who runs a shop and filling station in Portadown, said that a revived version of the oldest international football tournament in history could help ease the pain of failure to qualify for Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales.
He also suggested the Republic of Ireland should be invited to play for the first time, having not been a participant in the old British Home Championship which ran for 100 years until 1984.
Mr Woolsey explained: “I’m old enough to remember the home internationals in the ‘70s. I was at that match where George Best beat Scotland on his own and I came away mesmerised, not being able to believe I’d seen what I’d seen.
“What I would propose is that to take the sting out of not having any football to play this summer, why don’t the IFA approach FIFA and the other Football Associations to see if we can’t get a home internationals thing started again, instead of all these friendlies.
“We have the facilities everywhere for it now.
“Bring Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland – and you could bring in the Republic of Ireland now as well because England won’t be in it.”
While a home nations tournament without the largest and most populous nation England, the only one of the five suggested teams to secure qualification to the World Cup, might seem somewhat hollow, Mr Woolsey believes he has an easy solution.
“They’re going to Russia they’ll be going home early, like they always do, so whoever wins out of the four teams could play England in a decider,” he said.
Mr Woolsey believes that by bringing the likes of Welsh Real Madrid star Gareth Bale to Belfast to play in a home nations tournament of some sort, the recent momentum behind the Northern Ireland team could continue despite the pain of missing out on a World Cup place.
“When I went in the ‘70s we were able to watch the likes of George Best for Northern Ireland, Dennis Law playing for Scotland and Bobby Charlton playing for England,” he said.
“It’d be great to get that sort of thing back in Belfast. The IFA should try and get FIFA to sponsor it after they lost out on so much money because they won’t be going to the World Cup.”