After months of speculation and debate, the SFA finally came to a decision regarding the future for Scotland’s future home. The decision to remain at Hampden has divided opinion as expected, but is the right move?
The decision was made on the 11th of September, and means that at the end of their lease in 2020, the SFA will purchase the 51,000 capacity ground from its League 2 owners, Queen’s Park, for £5 million. And in return, will allow the Spiders to host their league matches at Lesser Hampden just outside.
The decision was met by mass criticism, including comments from former captain Scott Brown, who although wasn’t in favour of moving to the Home of Scottish Rugby, still criticised the SFA. Stating that “Hampden is possibly one of the worst stadiums I have played in for atmosphere.” He went onto to suggest moving games to Ibrox or Celtic Park when reaching capacity, and using stadiums such as Tannadice or Easter Road for smaller friendlies, Nation League matches and Qualifiers.
The decision has come out not long after the international double header which saw abysmal attendances of sub-20,000 in matches against Albania and Belgium.
One of the main criticisms has been that the stadium requires major redevelopment. With many suggesting bringing the two stands behind the goals closer to the pitch, similar to what was done in Stuttgart. This is something that already exists at Murrayfield, a move to which would also increase the maximum capacity for high demand games, such the Auld Enemy clashes or vital qualifiers, from 52,000 to 67,000.
Despite promising redevelopment, the costs don’t stop there. On top of the £5 million required to purchase the ground, they have agreed to inherit the backlog of liability costs dating as far back as the ground’s previous redevelopment. the cost of which is around £19 million.
Although a move to Murrayfield wasn’t guaranteed to improve the attendances or the appeal of international games to Scottish fans, it would create a better atmosphere at games, and would make games more accessible, with Haymarket train station being a 15-20 minute walk from the ground.
There was no perfect solution to the issue, especially with attendances dwindling due to ridiculous ticket prices. Unless the SFA stay true to their word this time around, the decision is the wrong one. But only time will tell.
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