SFA's Peat against Novo playing for Scotland

October 27, 2008

Scottish Football Association president George Peat believes picking Nacho Novo for Scotland would ''devalue'' the national team.

The Spaniard has expressed interest in playing for Scotland, his home since signing for Raith Rovers eight years ago.

The SFA's official position is that Scotland manager George Burley would be free to consider the Rangers striker for selection if he obtains British citizenship.

But Peat is opposed to naturalised citizens playing for Scotland.

''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,'' he told PA Sport.

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

''I think it devalues international football and I certainly wouldn't like to go down that route.''

The likes of Croatia and Poland, who both qualified for Euro 2008, have selected Brazilians in their team.

But Peat believes Scotland should not feel the need to follow suit as they bid to reach their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup finals.

''It's not a case that we would have to, I just think it's a principle we should stick by,'' he added.

''I hope that's the way it would remain.''

The decision will rest with Burley though. An SFA spokesman last week said that ''if the manager wants to pick a player who is eligible and who he thinks will do a job for Scotland, then he should always be allowed to do so''.

Burley has shown he is prepared to use the grandparent rule by handing international debuts to former England Under-21 midfielder James Morrison and Mansfield-born winger Kris Commons.

But the limited chances Burley gave to Kris Boyd because of his failure to gain a regular first-team place at Ibrox suggest Novo might struggle to force his way in.

Novo has scored two goals and started three games this season, compared to Boyd's six goals from seven starts, although his ability to play on the wing may suit Burley's preference for playing two wide men.

Peat said of Burley: ''I haven't discussed the matter with him. I have no idea at all what his opinion is on it.''

Novo earlier claimed he would apply for a British passport, which he is entitled to do having lived in the UK for at least five years, if the SFA approach him.

''I understand why people say that, to play for Scotland, you must be born in Scotland,'' the 29-year-old said.

''I agree with that and I'm not trying to make trouble. But I've been asked the question and I've answered it. I would be happy to play for Scotland.''

And he added: ''I would give everything for the team, as I have done for any side I've played for.''

Scottish sports minister Stewart Maxwell has backed Novo's right to play for Scotland as a matter of equality.

The SNP politician said: ''It's a matter for the authorities to decide who gets picked but, clearly, anyone who has citizenship here is entitled to be picked.

''Countries around the world pick people who had lineage there, whether it's parents or grandparents, or people who have adopted citizenship.

''Everybody in Scotland is equal in terms of citizenship. If they are citizens of Scotland, they are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.

''I think it's about inclusion and fairness and then it's about skill, experience and ability, and that's up to the authorities to decide on the best team.

''Everyone, whether they are born here or adopt Scotland as their home, should be treated the same.''