Ruth Davidson: Football's a bad fit for Murrayfield

The relationship between the BT Murrayfield Stadium and the local community is a good one, but there's a risk this could be jeopardised over the coming days.

Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 7:00 am
Hampden should remain the home of Scottish foorball, says Ruth Davidson. Picture: John Devlin

After putting it off last week, the SFA is expected to decide soon on whether or not to make the famous venue the official home of Scottish football.

If it does, a very intense and sincere consultation period is going to have to take place with residents in and around the 67,000-seater arena.

Constituents tell me they are happy, and indeed proud, that Murrayfield plays host to Scotland rugby matches, not least the annual Six Nations fixtures and the occasional high profile test matches.

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They’re less in favour of the big-ticket concerts, which are often loud and late, and bring with them huge disruption and sometimes anti-social behaviour of fans who’ve enjoyed just a little too much to drink.

It’s important to recognise that making Murrayfield the home of football would bring with it not just Scotland international matches, but presumably six domestic cup finals and semi-finals too.

That means, in a busy footballing year, the number of extra major events at Murrayfield could run into double figures. And that’s where the patience of people in that part of the city will understandably run out.

My own view is that we have two excellent national stadiums in Scotland (although the fan experience at Hampden is in dire need of improvement) and that interest in both sports is sufficient to retain the two separate homes.

I’ve also yet to meet many football fans who want Murrayfield to become Scotland’s home.

In contrast to concerns in the west of Edinburgh, people in and around Hampden are keen for its relationship with the Beautiful Game to continue.

I’m not convinced by the argument that local businesses would benefit from footballing fixtures at Murrayfield.

So much of the matchday entertainment and refreshments – which is done excellently it has to be said – is contained within the stadium footprint and there’s not much left over for local commerce.

It’s for this reason I hope the SFA decides to stick with Hampden, and vows to make some positive changes to transport and investigate the possibility of a fan zone.

That way Scotland fans of both sports can look forward to enduring some heartache, and hopefully some overdue joy, in magnificent arenas in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

And it keeps those who have to make their homes and lives in those parts of the respective cities throughout the rest of the year happy too.

Ruth Davidson is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives and an MSP for Edinburgh Central.