Kenny Dalglish proposes Ukraine 2026 World Cup bye as Scotland set to discover UEFA and FIFA’s solution for playoff

Kenny Dalglish believes Ukraine should be handed an automatic place at the 2026 World Cup.

The Scotland legend spoke out as football’s top brass prepared to redraw the play-off fixture list over the next 48 hours.

It’s now expected that UEFA and FIFA will agree on a new look schedule by Tuesday afternoon as they attempt to ensure that Ukraine are in a position to compete despite the ongoing Russian invasion.

That looks set to mean Steve Clarke’s side will meet a Ukrainian side at Hampden on June 1 so long as the play-off semi final is able to go ahead.

And the winners would then face Wales in Cardiff on June 5 knowing a place at the finals in November is up for grabs.

But Dalglish feels that, if the Ukrainians do not feel ready or able to play, an alternative solution may be to hand them a direct place at 2026 Finals in North America whilst Clarke’s team go on to face Wales to decide who goes to Qatar.

Ukraine head coach Oleksandr Petrakov

Dalglish said: “I don’t know what should be done, but you’ve got to have huge respect for the Ukrainian players and the Football Association.

“It’s not their fault that they are in the position they are in.

“Most of the squad don’t play over there. They are playing elsewhere, but they’ve still got families there that have been hugely affected by it.

“I think it’s unfair to put them under pressure in any way, shape or form.

“Maybe a wee olive branch and say, in the next World Cup, you can go straight through. You don’t need to qualify.

“It would be a way of showing your respect for them and, at the same time, moving forward with this World Cup in Qatar.

“And people will say: ‘How can they (Ukraine) get that?’

“Well, if you want to get your places bombed, your parents killed and your friends killed, that’s what you need to go through to get it.

“I think it would be nice, if they want a solution, to give them that.”

It has been suggested that Scotland and Ukraine – who are also due to play each other in a Nations League tie in June – could agree to double up and effectively play a one off six pointer to ease any fixture congestion.

But although FIFA and UEFA have insisted that all options should be on the table, RecordSport understands the SFA are not in favor of that particular plan.

Clarke has also vetoed the option of playing Ukraine 24 hours earlier on May 31 as skipper Andy Robertson could be playing in the Champions League Final with Liverpool on May 28 – a scenario which would leave him scrambling to get back to Scotland in time to prepare properly with the rest of the manager’s squad.

Dalglish believes the manager is leading from the front on the pitch as well as off it as he attempts to get Scotland to a second-successive major tournament.

He said: “He’s done brilliantly, Stevie.

“The players have respect for the punters and they have gained the punters’ respect.

“The video that you saw in the dressing room after big David Marshall saved the penalty told you a great deal about what’s happening indoors.

Kenny Dalglish

“If they are all together, you’ve got a better chance of being successful.

“If you get the football side right, you get the punters onside.

“We’ve always had the best supporters anyway. When we got to World Cups, the supporters outperformed the players didn’t they?”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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