How did the Hampden saga arise?

On Sunday, Motherwell play Celtic in the Betfred Cup final. The game will be held at Hampden, just like every cup final and the lion’s share of Scotland’s home games.

That situation, however, could be about to change as the Scottish FA have indicated they are considering their options once their current lease agreement with Queen’s Park, the owners of the ground, expires in 2020. That would provide the club with a problem, since the amateur side get the majority of their revenue from renting out their ground to the SFA.

How has it come to a situation where Scotland would potentially move away from their home of over 100 years? We ask lifelong Spiders fan Iain Smith, whose father used to be the club’s president.

“A lot of people have Hampden in their hearts and they would not want the games to go elsewhere. There are many other fans, though, saying that the capacity is not high enough, the view is not great. The transport infrastructure is not fantastic and it is of course on the west coast of Scotland, which disadvantages a lot of fans who come from different parts of the country.”

A lot of the issues around Hampden have to do with the redevelopment of the stadium, which was completed in the 1990’s. “It ran over budget and Queen’s Park got the blame for it. However, it was done really cheaply, especially when you compare it to Wembley. That raises the question if it should not be rebuilt properly. If you are building a ground right now, you probably would do it differently to the way Hampden is set up now, in its oval shape and with the fans quite far from the pitch.”

Smith thinks the Scottish FA are currently just calling bluff. “I liken it to the Brexit negotiations. If they started out by saying they will just stay at Hampden, that would give Queen’s Park a strong position for negotiations about a new lease agreement. They might actually be happy to stay, even if they say they are considering their options.”

Asked what his personal wish would be, the answer is pretty clear. “I am a Queen’s Park fan, and a traditionalist as well. So absolutely, I would want the Scotland games and the cup finals to stay at Hampden. I think the players like it as well, otherwise it would go to Rangers or Celtic and they all play there anyway. The facilities are also very good for the players, which is a big pulling factor for Queen’s Park but they’ re also better than at many Premiership grounds.”

By Jan Spaans

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