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INSIDE TRACK: Rooney's boots are the key to independence poll

YOU read it here first:

Wayne Rooney could determine the outcome of the independence referendum. Conventional wisdom has it that economics will be the deciding factor in the vote on Scotland's future.

Scots will weigh up the merits of different tax and spending approaches, the advantages of a petro-currency against the pound and evaluate the optimum solution for the lender-of-last resort problem.

To this end, businesses are starting to join the fray. Last week, Standard Life warned it might move some of its operations out of an independent Scotland. Some people, such as Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, like the idea of a new nation with lower taxes.

No doubt the grids in the respective headquarters of Better Together and Yes Scotland have a host of big hitters from business and beyond to be rolled out over the coming six months.

But for all those engrossed in the minutiae of the Panamanian dollar versus the sterling bloc, many more are looking forward to this summer's sporting calendar.

Sport has already been identified as a factor in the independence campaign. The prospect of a flag-waving First Minister celebrating Scottish victories at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow enthrals the "yes" camp as much as it appals its opponents.

However, mixing sport and politics can be a tricky business - as the mixed reaction to Alex Salmond's Saltire display at Wimbledon showed.

Overlooked thus far has been the impact of the World Cup, not least because, yet again, Scotland lacks representation.

However, England will be in Brazil and so we have the prospect of the London-based papers, and to a more muted degree its broadcasters, in full football throttle.

For who can forget Euro '96 and Piers Morgan's Mirror front-page headline "Achtung Surrender" ahead of England's game with Germany?

It also means we will have months of debate about whether "Anyone but England" is an acceptable stance for a Scottish sports fan.

For now, there is an unusual air of despondency among English football fans worn down by years of underperformance by their multi-millionaire players when they are deprived of the assistance of the foreign stars who put the pizzazz into the Premier League. This could all change with a decent run in this summer's World Cup.

In a notable coincidence the key game could well land on the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn.

In their last group match, on June 24, England play Costa Rica, the team that finished off Scotland's 1990 World Cup campaign. Those looking for historical precedent should note that the venue of Belo Horizonte is the same city where in the 1950 World Cup, England lost to the United States.

But the team's progress to the later rounds raises the prospect of the bombasticism of past tournaments being reheated once more.

Now, just imagine if England won?

The mention of 1966 can send the most mild-mannered Scot, or for that matter Welshman, into apoplexy.

Could the prospect of 50 years of reminders about 2014 be enough to send voters scurrying for the "yes" box? A well-timed swing of Wazza's £85 million legs and we could find out.

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