Uefa, European football's governing body, confirmed to The Independent last night that the seedings for the 2010 World Cup qualifying – for which the draw takes place on 25 November – will be dependent solely on the next Fifa rankings, which appear on 23 November.
As things stand, England are the ninth-best nation in Europe: Argentina and Brazil are the only non-European nations in Fifa's top 11. As such, England would be among the nine top seeds for the 2010 draw, and guaranteed not to meet giants such as Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Scotland, as things stand, will be in the second pot of seeds, which would be a huge improvement in itself on their seeding for Euro 2008 qualifying, when they they were fourth seeds and hence ended up in the toughest section alongside Italy, France and Ukraine.
Yet the potentially killer blow for England – and utopia for Scotland – could arrive if England do badly in their two games between now and the next rankings while Scotland do well. England face a friendly with Austria then a Euro 2008 qualifier with Croatia while Scotland play Italy.
Scotland could leapfrog England to 11th place in Fifa's rankings – and hence earn top-seed status for 2010 qualifying – while England could fall to second-seed status.
Quite a thought!