By Fraser Clarke & Chris Macmillan
Hampden Park will remain the home of Scottish football after the Scottish Football Association struck a deal to buy the stadium from Queen’s Park.
The SFA had been weighing up the option of Murrayfield as the future home of the national team with the lease due to end in 2020, however, they have agreed to pay League Two owners Queen’s Park £5m to take ownership upon the expiration of the contract.
Former SFA Head of Communications Darryl Broadfoot believes that the deal is vital for Scottish football and that it is the correct decision.
He said: “Hampden Park is the home of Scottish Football and personally I am delighted that the board of the Scottish FA recognises that it shall remain the home of Scottish Football. Arguably one of the most famous stadiums in the world, we have seen some magnificent matches down the years and I’m sure Hampden will evoke many more memories in the future.”
Hampden is a host venue for the European Championships in 2020, with Glasgow scheduled to host group and knockout fixtures.
“The challenge now is 2020, when of course it will be a host venue for the European Championships and what can be done to improve on what is already a firmly established FIFA standard stadium.” continued Broadfoot.
Broadcaster Rob Maclean believes that building a new stadium outside of Glasgow would boost atmosphere and attendances, after dwindling numbers came through the turnstiles against Belgium and Albania.
Maclean said: “I’m not surprised that the SFA have came to the obvious decision. I’d like to see the games being played around the country. Friday night and Monday night were played to attendances totalling about 37,000.
“I don’t think Hampden works at the moment for the success of the Scotland team and with the price of the tickets, I don’t think it’s attracting big enough crowds. I’d prefer to see the games played at Tynecastle, Easter Road or Pittodrie.
“What we desperately need is a new stadium, this won’t be happening, but in an ideal world we could have a new stadium in the middle of the country, somewhere like Perth or Stirling, that holds about 30,000. That would be ideal.
“That’s not happening any time soon. Hopefully the SFA can get Hampden redeveloped so that it’s more fit for purpose, it would be good to get the stands closer to the pitch so there’s more atmosphere, because at the moment it’s really difficult to create any real sort of atmosphere. It’s not a great place for Scotland to play their games.”
Despite the commentator accepting that a new stadium is unlikely, Maclean insists that Murrayfield was not the solution.
“Murrayfield was never a goer as far as I was concerned. Maybe it was just more of a negotiating weapon as far as Queen’s Park are concerned to accept a lesser offer, because it’s bigger than Hampden. Hampden is the place in terms of tradition, heritage, history, but right at this moment doesn’t fit the purpose.”
Scotland cap and current Livingston defender Steven Saunders echoed Broadfoot’s opinion on the news that the side is staying in South Glasgow, but also agrees with Maclean that the atmosphere is lacking.
Saunders admitted: I think Hampden is good, but I just sometimes think that the atmosphere is missing with the way the setup is, obviously it’s got the space for the running track around it. But I think Hampden is Scotland’s national stadium, so I think that is the right place to stay.”
The decision has left Queen’s Park fan and Tartan Army member Logan Taylor with split emotions as he is happy that Scotland will remain in Glasgow, but hopes that Queen’s Park will be able to call Hampden home.
“I’m absolutely delighted that Hampden will remain the home of Scottish football, there should never have been any debate about going to play football at a rugby ground.
“I would much prefer to have seen it remain the home of Queen’s Park as well, I don’t see why Queen’s Park can not continue to play at Hampden as they have done for quite a long time now.” said Taylor.