Lord Coe is trying to persuade Sir Alex Ferguson to manage a Great Britain football team at the London Olympic Games in 2012. The Times has learnt that the men have held discussions about the prestigious post.
Ferguson is understood to have been intrigued by the offer, but is reluctant to commit to the job while he is still managing Manchester United. He does not want it to distract from his work at Old Trafford, but, with four years until the Games, Coe has not given up hope that something could come of their discussions.
Coe, chairman of the organising committee for 2012, first raised the idea with Ferguson at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year awards in Birmingham in December. "Seb came up with the idea totally out of the blue and the more he \ thought about it, the more perfect the fit became," a source close to the discussions said. "They have spoken about it on a couple of occasions. Sir Alex has said he is interested but he is understandably focused on Manchester United for the foreseeable future."
Ferguson is the outstanding and obvious candidate given his experience and CV. "It would be odd if Sir Alex was not uppermost in their thoughts given his credentials," a United spokesman said last night.
The club are relaxed about the prospect of Ferguson and Coe continuing to discuss the proposal.
Another good reason to recruit him is that the prospect of Great Britain fielding a team in 2012 is mired in political wrangling, with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) refusing to play any part. The FA of Wales and its Northern Ireland counterpart have also dragged their heels because they fear that their independence as footballing nations could be threatened.
Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has given written guarantees that Olympic participation would not affect their standing, but talks have been deadlocked for months. The involvement of a high-profile and respected figure such as Ferguson could force the SFA to drop its objections and give fresh impetus to a GB team.