Scottish FA welcomes World Cup expansion

Updated: 

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has welcomed FIFA's decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026, describing it as "a positive step, particularly for the smaller nations".

Regan feels the revised format will hand countries such as Scotland - who have not qualified for a major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998 - return to the top table of global football.

"We are pleased with the news that the FIFA World Cup will expand to 48 teams from 2026," he said.

"We believe this is a positive step, particularly for the smaller nations, and will allow more fans across the globe to revel in their country's participation at a FIFA World Cup Finals.

"This will also allow these nations to invest further in their footballing infrastructure and youth development, which in turn can yield significant social benefits.

"The exploits of Wales, Iceland, and Northern Ireland at Euro 2016 showed what an impact the smaller teams can have, and how beneficial to a tournament their participation can be.

"A greater eclectic mix of footballing cultures at the FIFA World Cup will create a bigger and better atmosphere than ever before."

There has been some resistance to the plans, with the European Club Association - of which the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are all members - expressing its opposition.