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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was keen on merging the English and Scottish leagues

He believed that it would help keep the ties between the two countries close at a time, politically, they could move their separate ways

Brentford, Fulham and QPR could have been facing long trips to Scotland as part of a merged league, if former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair had had his way.

The ex-PM, who was in charge from 1997 to 2007, held a referendum on devolution, which led to the creation of a Scottish parliament.

Mr Blair believed that it would help keep the ties between the two countries close at a time, politically, they could move their separate ways.

The Scottish National Party now run the Scottish Parliament and held an independence referendum in 2014 and, in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, Nicola Sturgeon is keen to push for another vote, depending on how the withdrawal from the European Union progresses.

And Mr Blair said he believed in retrospect that he could have "looked for more ways to keep Scotland and England culturally aligned".

Tony Blair in Parliament

He told BBC Scotland: "I know it sounds a bit strange but I was for a time quite obsessed with the idea that, for example, for football we should be opening up the English league and the Scottish league and having them together.

"I always thought we should be looking at ways of making sure that people felt a connection."

A move would have been controversial as fans of English teams aren't keen on Scottish sides joining the league, with Old Firm sides Celtic and Rangers most recently linked with a move down south last year as part of the EFL's Whole Game Solution.

However, Mr Blair, a Newcastle United fan, believes he could still see a "certain logic" in the concept of a combined British league but conceded a British national team was a step too far.

He added: "I was looking for ways of making sure that as we in a sense diverged around devolution, that there were elements of convergence and I still think in the future it is important we look for that."

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