Alan Hubbard ©insidethegames

I make the suggestion in the headline somewhat tongue in cheek of course, but I can't help feeling that Britain's beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May has scored another massive own goal in insisting on a political and diplomatic boycott of the World Cup in Russia, especially now that Gareth Southgate's young lions are doing the nation so proud. 

Yes, I get it that Britain has the dead needle, to coin a phrase, with Vladimir Putin over the nasty novichok affair and assorted other Anglo-Russo-disagreements, but I think it wrong that the England team should now be denied the moral and actual support of the Government.

I do not believe in boycotts in sport because they do not work. Never have - except one, of course, which I was fully behind. That of ostracising South Africa over the horrid regime of apartheid, which I always applauded.

But this is different. What Mrs May, currently making such a dog's brexit of leaving the European Union, conveniently overlooks is that it is not Russia that her Ministers would be supporting out there as England approach their semi-final against Croatia and possibly Sunday's (July 15) final against France or Belgium, if they continue to ride their luck, but her national team.

Anyway, this is not Russia's World Cup. They may be hosting it but it belongs to FIFA, who are running it.

Whatever has happened between the two nations, I think the England team deserves to know that their Government is behind them.

England's success at the FIFA World Cup has come amid a British diplomatic boycott ©Getty Images
England's success at the FIFA World Cup has come amid a British diplomatic boycott ©Getty Images

At the very least the footy-loving Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch, should be on a plane to Moscow now, together with Prince William as the President of the English Football Association.

I can see hackles rising in Westminster among those who believe that what Russia is alleged to have done over novichok-gate is well beyond the pale. But this is sport, not politics.

It is not too late for Mrs May to do another unscheduled U-turn - she has already executed more than the average London taxi driver anyway.

No-one is suggesting that, say, Prince William should be seen doing high fives with Putin in the VIP box or that he should be decked out head to toe in an England strip, as was the Croatian President in her nation's red and white checks when they played Russia in the quarter finals.

But it is what it is.

Okay, so we know the score over novichok and the probability is that Putin was involved somewhere along the line, but so far it has not been actually proven.

And Mrs May has only to turn on the TV or glance at the newspapers to see what a euphoric effect England's unexpected progress has made on the nation. Come another general election, it could be worth a good few votes.

That is one good reason why she should be lending Downing Street's official support out there.

It won't matter a rouble's toss to Putin and the Kremlin whether British politicians and/or diplomats are there or not.

But if there was a referendum - perish the thought - you can bet the English public would want a bit of official cheerleading in Russia, where not even the British Ambassador has been given permission by our Government to attend England's games. That is a nonsense.

The novichok nerve agent affair has strained British and Russian relations ©Getty Images
The novichok nerve agent affair has strained British and Russian relations ©Getty Images

This has been a wonderful World Cup for both England and the Russian hosts. Neither have put a foot wrong and I think this should be recognised.

The Russian people have been welcoming, the fans well behaved and the organisation has been exemplary.

No-one is asking the British Government to send Putin a note of congratulation but simply to show some support when most needed to a team displaying qualities that should be applauded and admired. And not just from afar.

So perhaps if Mrs May wants to salve her political conscience, maybe she should suggest that her now departed and un-lamented Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who happens to be available and no longer a member of her Government, hotfoots it to Moscow, replete with St George's flag which he could wave from a tripwire as he zips across the Luzhniki Stadium.

At the same time he could deliver one of his famous two-fingered salutes to President Putin.