Start packing the bags -- the great Bono has intervened in the World Cup scandal and called on FIFA to admit Ireland as a 33rd team in South Africa next summer.

He’s not alone, by the way. Last Friday an FAI delegation met Sepp Blatter and FIFA in Zurich and pleaded with them to let us in through the back door at the 2010 finals.

The FAI, well aware that FIFA were never going to offer us a rematch against the French frauds, have got desperate, you see, in their bid to earn a slice of the huge World Cup income.

And that’s the real reason why they are now making us a laughingstock in world football as they act like spoilt children who can’t understand why the French took the World Cup ball off us and won’t give it back.

This is all to do with money, folks. The FAI have to pay their share of the new Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Road -- well over $120 million if you’re asking -- and they badly need cash now that the first payments are due.

Sure, they have arranged a massive loan and they are trying to sell 10-year Vantage Club tickets at hugely inflated prices, but the World Cup was their big banker.

They could have pocketed almost $30 million if they’d made it to the big boys party in South Africa next summer, and that’s a huge amount of dosh for a cash-starved association like the FAI.

That’s the real reason why the FAI are still crying over the milk that was spilt by Thierry Henry’s careless hand in Paris, the real reason why they stopped short of getting down on their hands and knees and begging Sepp Blatter for a World Cup finals spot last Friday afternoon.

Blatter knows as much. He practically laughed when he told a South African press conference all about the boys from Ireland and their request on Monday.

Indeed, many of the journalists present in that Johannesburg room did break out laughing when he revealed the FAI’s request to be added as a 33rd team in Friday’s draw for the World Cup finals.

But before you too (get it?) start laughing at this pathetic attempt by the FAI to shame the shameless FIFA into atoning for the sins of the French, consider the big news of the week -- Bono thinks FIFA should add us to the guest list for the biggest gig in the world next summer.

Not three hours after Blatter had a good laugh at our expense Bono found a new high horse to get up on -- not that all horses aren’t high when you are his size!

As he spoke to the BBC at an event to mark World AIDS Day -- surely more important that Ireland’s wafer thin World Cup lifeline -- the great Bono appeared to back the FAI’s pathetic appeal.

“The whole country received a devastating blow. The country’s going through a lot of difficult times at the moment anyway,” revealed His Holiness when asked about Paris.

The man from the BBC then enquired if the patriotic Bono, who still pays many of his taxes outside Ireland in case you’ve forgotten, backed the FAI’s pleas to be allowed into the World Cup via a new back door?

“Yes, I think so. Absolutely,” replied the one and only U2 frontman. “I think it would be a really noble thing of FIFA to do.

“I think it is okay for FIFA to say, ‘Look things are changing, that game is an affront to FIFA’s concept of fairness’ and I think there’s smart people in FIFA who will see that this is an opportunity. It’s not a huge giant bureaucracy that can’t be turned around.

“It can turn around and they should have video from now on, and they should allow Ireland be at the Cup.”

So there you have it. Bono thinks we should be in South Africa next summer, and I’m pretty sure someone in FIFA will want to heed his advice.

After all, if you can stop world hunger, bring peace to the planet and end global warming you deserve to be listened to, don’t you?

Or am I just an old cynic who doesn’t believe for a second that Ireland will be in South Africa with the greatest teams in the world next June and July?

We had our chance against the French and we blew it just as much as the cheat Henry did.

As a certain Roy Keane said -- get over it. And that goes for Bono the same as the rest of us.