SPORT

Scottish Independence: How Will Sport Be Affected?

17/09/2014 13:17 BST | Updated 17/09/2014 13:59 BST

England and Scotland's raucous friendly at Wembley last year, their first meeting in almost 14 years, has intensified the excitement ahead of their reverse fixture at Hampden Park in November, let alone the outcome of the Scottish Independence referendum.

The New Wembley had not heard a din quite like the one tens of thousands of Scots provided on a rain-soaked night in north London. England will return to Glasgow on Tuesday 18 November for what promises to be a partisan and patriotic occasion exactly two months after the referendum vote. Scotland have not qualified for a major tournament this century yet in a group where up to three teams can automatically qualify for the rejigged Euro 2016 format, they have the wind in their sails. A "Yes" vote could clip the Scottish grouse's wings, though.

Scotland - and Britain's - privileges within Fifa's murky inner circle could drastically change. The home nations' football associations helped bail out Fifa when it almost went bankrupt after the Second World War and the union could lose its Fifa vice-presidency, which would prevent them from influencing its rule-making body, the International Football Association Board. The English FA heavily endorsed the inclusion of goal-line technology, which was introduced in the Premier League last year.

Scotland's uprising could also be halted by Uefa. The Scottish FA are keen for Hampden to host games for Euro 2020, which will be played in 13 countries across the continent, however an evaluation report criticised the commercial aspect of the Glasgow bid as being "inadequate" and "lacking clarity". Uefa's executive committee will vote on the host cities on Friday, a day after the Scottish referendum.

scottish independence referendum sport

Scotland players celebrate their equaliser in Germany earlier this month

Any lingering aspirations Celtic and Rangers held of moving south of the border would also be killed. The chances were all but extinguished when Rangers went into liquidation in 2012, while the attraction of the Old Firm clubs in England has diminished considerably over the last decade. Martin O'Neill's Celtic were a captivating and threatening side that reached the Uefa Cup final in 2003, however the Ulsterman's departure two years later signalled the club's decline, despite both Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon managing to lead the club into the Champions League knockout stage.

Then there is the quirky fate of border side Berwick Rangers, the only English club in Scotland. They have played north of the border since 1951 and expulsion from the Scottish leagues could signal the beginning of the end for the 130-year-old club. Due to their proximity, the cost of re-integrating the Scottish League Two club into English football and travelling hundreds of miles across the country might not be manageable.

The club’s vice-chairman, John Bell, is hopeful, though, and said: “Berwick Rangers are full members of the Scottish Professional Football League and as such we would expect to remain members of it, regardless of any independence issue.”

Beyond football, there could be the surreal scenario of Scotland competing against Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Team GB's most decorated athlete is Sir Chris Hoy, Katherine Grainger's triumph was one of the most poignant British wins in 2012, while Andy Murray's gold medal endeared him to even the most cynical Englishmen, although that could change.

The timeframe is against Salmond, with plans to declare Scotland an independent country in March 2016. The difficulty they would face is the International Olympic Committee admits “an independent nation recognised by the international community”. That applies to United Nations members.

Funding would, presumably, be cut off for Scottish athletes by UK Sport and Team GB would almost certainly not surpass the record medal haul of 2012; their quadrennial target. Scots made up 50% of Britain's Winter Olympic athletes, as opposed to a fifth of the London 2012 medal winners, and chancellor George Osborne has stressed the sterling will not be shared.

The British and Irish Lions might merely undergo a name change, although Scottish rugby players have become a peripheral presence in the team. Richie Gray was the only Scot to play in the three Tests against Australia in 2013 and Scotland have been represented by just four players on the last two tours of the Southern Hemisphere.

There is about as much enthusiasm for the Davis Cup in Britain as there is for a new Big Brother series; most do their best to avoid it and the embarrassment could worsen if Murray no longer competes for the union. It is unlikely many tennis fans have heard of James Ward, Colin Fleming and Dominic Inglot, Murray's teammates this year.

Wimbledon is not exactly a hotbed for the vitriolic and Murray's golden postbox adorns Church Road, but he might not be the golden boy at the Championships in 2015.