Not since 1972 has there been a football team competing under the Union Flag, but this summer will herald the return of a Great Britain side in Olympic competition.

But the team will be far from a representation of the best young talent assembled from across Britain, but more a blend of mediocre players with relatively little international experience.

On the face of it, Stuart Pearce has a wealth of quality to choose from when he selects his squad for London 2012 but, realistically, the Team GB boss is unlikely to have access to even half of the players that would represent the strongest side from the British isles.

The issues for Pearce a three fold - firstly the opposition to the plans by the Football Associations of Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, secondly the reluctance of Premier League teams to make their players available, and thirdly the European Championships taking place earlier in the summer.

These national associations oppose the move due to fears of losing their independent status in world football, with the worry that Team GB could become a permanent fixture.

The SFA have even taken the move to organise a friendly encounter with Australia only four days after the conclusion of the Olympic tournament, which serves as further evidence to the opposition of their players being involved.

Stewart Regan, chief executive of the SFA, has also claimed that players who do compete for Team GB may face a backlash from Scottish supporters.

But FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has attempt to allay any concerns that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will eventually be merged.

"You can always understand [their concerns] but you still hope that... we should forget about these problems when you're talking about an event like the Olympic Games," he told BBC Sport.

"There's a team and this team should be composed by the four British associations.

"We finalised an agreement between the four British associations and Fifa. It took a long time - there was a lot of exchange of letters and things said, and a lot of words used in this period.

"Now it's up to the coach and the FA to finalise the composition of this team. But it should be a representation of a country."

It is not, though, only national associations who have taken issue with their players competing at London 2012, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believing the competition is 'not a real football tournament'.

Wenger is, naturally, concerned by the idea of his players appearing both at the European Championships and the Olympics, and the chances of both England and GB employing the services of Jack Wilshere would appear to be incredibly slim.

It is understandable that Wenger does not wish any of his players to be over exerted in what would, traditionally, be a period of rest over the summer months.

But his assertion that it should be the club and not the professional that decide whether or not a player should compete at the Olympics surely serves to devalue the Games even further.

It is also perhaps proof that, even though it was conceived some 98 years after the latter, the Premier League and its members are more powerful and influential than the International Olympic Committee.

If people were asked to name the president of the IOC, it is unlikely that the majority would be able to responded with the answer 'Jacques Rogge'.

But, should people be questioned as to who the manager of Manchester United is, one would suspect 'Sir Alex Ferguson' would be the overwhelming response.

It is, of course, unfair to draw a direct comparison between the Premier League and the IOC, with one operating in full flow for nine months out of every 12, and the other once every four years.

But, with Team GB unlikely to field many players from the Premier League, the latter clearly considers itself to be far more important that the Olympic Games.

There is an argument that this is a fair assumption, but the failure by teams in the Premier League to co-operate with Team GB will make a mockery of a side being entered in first place, giving the overwhelming opposition.

And, if Great Britain fail to enter a team capable of beating the likes of Brazil and Argentine to the gold medal, then what is the point in competing in the tournament at all?

Topics:
#Premier League
Flag article