It looks increasingly likely the World Cup Finals will be contested by 40 or 48 countries in 2026, after FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday there was a 'positive' feeling towards an expansion among councillors.

Infantino, who favours a larger tournament, does not believe extra teams will dilute the event's quality, citing Costa Rica's progression from their World Cup group in 2014 while England and Italy were knocked out.

A decision will be made at the FIFA 17 Coins fifacoin-buy council meeting in January, with all the analysis concentrating on 40- and 48-team formats.

One proposal is 10 groups of four with the winners plus the six best runners-up progressing to the round of 16.

But favourite is the 48-strong option of 16 sides progressing from a Finals play-off involving 32 countries, joining 16 seeded teams in the group stage. Infantino sees no problem with so many sides going home after one match.

FA chairman Martin Glenn made the extraordinary claim at the council meeting this week that a lot of fans want to see the end of FA Cup replays. Glenn added this was backed up in market research by the ruling body, who have abolished replays for the FA Cup quarter-finals this season. 

Glenn's comments were immediately challenged by fans' chief Malcolm Clarke, who said he would put money on Glenn being wrong but he wasn't allowed to bet on football. However, Clarke is now commissioning his own poll of supporters to counter Glenn's proposal, which he says will only diminish the standing of the FA Cup. Replays are also vital to the finances of smaller clubs.

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