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NACHO NO-GO; SFA chief Peat says he's dead against any cap call for Gers star Scotland No.2 Butcher says whole idea is absurd.

Byline: By Anthony Haggerty

SFA chief George Peat and national coach Terry Butcher yesterday blasted the prospect of Nacho Novo ever turning out for Scotland.

Spaniard Novo revealed exclusively in Record Sport last week he would be interested in playing for Scotland, his adopted homeland for the last eight years.

The SFA's official line is that manager George Burley would consider the Rangers striker for selection if he took out British citizenship - a position backed yesterday by Scottish Minister for Sport Stewart Maxwell.

But SFA president Peat and Burley's No.2 Butcher both admitted they are firmly AGAINST naturalised citizens starring for Scotland ... with Englishman Butcher claiming the idea is ABSURD.

Peat said: "As far as I'm concerned the bloodline position going as far back as grandparents is quite enough and it shouldn't go beyond that.

"The way the rules are set just now, one could do it but I certainly wouldn't agree with it.

"The SFA policy is that there is a bloodline going as far as grandparents or that after a period of residency a player can qualify for a British passport and therefore be eligible.

"It would then be entirely up to the national coach.

"But there is a gentlemen's agreement in place between the four home nations that the furthest we would go would be to use players who qualify to represent a country through their grandparents.

"As a patriot, I would prefer a player playing for the Scottish national team to qualify through a bloodline.

"It is a matter of opinion whether the other route would improve the national team but I would certainly not go down that road.

"Of course it would be up to the national coach but the general view of the SFA is we would not be interested."

Butcher said: "This whole idea first surfaced with Arsenal's Spanish keeper Manuel Almunia expressing a desire to turn out for England.

"Then Novo said he would be 'very interested in playing for Scotland'should the SFA give him a call. Am I missing something here?

"I know this procedure occurs in other sports but for football I'd draw the line at this.

"The rules have been massaged to allow the birthplaces of parents and grandparents to count but that is the furthest they should be stretched.

"I know people will look atme as an Englishman coaching Scotland but that is another matter entirely and cannot be compared to playing for your nation.

"To have obvious non-nationals representing a country is absurd. It would make football the ultimate Fantasy League. It's demeaning."

But Minister for Sport Maxwell insisted Novo would have a right to be considered for selection if he obtains a British passport.

Maxwell was with Peat at Hampden for the third-round draw of the Homecoming Scottish Cup.

He said: "My views are that anybody who is a citizen of Scotland, whether they are born here or their parents or grandparents were born here, or if they have become a naturalised citizen should be treated in the same way - fairly and equally.

"If somebody is a citizen of Scotland then it is a question of their ability and experience and whether the authorities or national team manager wants to pick them.

"Everybody who is a citizen of Scotland should be treated the same way.

"I don't think this dilutes what it means to be Scottish as people come here from all over the world.

"Many of us have grandparents or great grandparents who moved to Scotland and not all of us have a lineage going back a thousand years. I do not believe in that kind of nonsense.

"If you pledge your allegiance to Scotland, whether you were born here or become a naturalised citizen, then that is entirely reasonable and everybody should be treated the same way.

"The fact is that if anybody becomes a citizen of a country then there should be equal rights for all people whether they were born here or are naturalised citizens.

"The only alternative is that people are treated as second-class citizens because they don't have the same roots as everybody else and that is not right.

"There should be equal rights for all people whether they are born here or not.

"That is the case in every other part of life, whether you want to become an employee, join the police force or whatever you want to do.

"To say one thing is reserved for those who happen to have been born here or who have parents who were born here is unfair and I don't think that is a reasonable position to hold.

"It is up to the SFA and the international footballing bodies to decide what their rules are.

"But in terms of equal rights and responsibilities for citizens of Scotland everybody should be treated the same way.

"However, there will be a range of views on this subject and a lot of opposing views.

"It is very important that we have a Scottish national football team who are committed to the cause and people who are out there fighting for the jersey and their country.

"I just believe that every Scottish citizen should have equal rights and that should apply in all aspects of life."

Maxwell warned that the rules should be not be exploited by players who are deemed not good enough to play for their own country in a bid to participate in a major finals such as the World Cup or European Championships for an adopted nation.

Maxwell said: "I am not interested in people who want to play for a country for those kind of reasons.

"It should be about people who come here, live here, settle here and want to be part of Scotland.

"If that is what they want to be and they want to be Scots then that is fine and I do not see any problem with that.

"There may be an issue with people trying to exploit the system but I think it would be very difficult to do that when you consider the length of time you have to spend in a country before you can become a citizen.

"That is a long-term commitment and it's unlikely that would happen."

CAPTION(S):

GAME OF CHANCE: Stewart Maxwell, George Peat and Alan Rough make the Scottish Cup draw
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 28, 2008
Words:1054
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