Scottish Rugby has claimed it could pour extra income of around £2 million a year into the Scottish FA’s coffers if Murrayfield succeeds in ousting Hampden as the country’s primary venue for international football.
The future of Hampden is set to be determined next Wednesday when the Scottish FA, whose current lease at the stadium expires in 2020, is expected to announce whether it will remain at the iconic Glasgow venue or move along the M8 to Murrayfield.
Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby’s chief operating officer, has been leading the Murrayfield bid and believes it is in “a great position” to succeed.
A key part of McKay’s pitch to the Scottish FA board has been the increased revenue he insists could be raised by playing at the 67,000-capacity home of Scottish rugby, compared to Hampden’s current capacity of 52,000. McKay even claims Scottish Rugby’s marketing expertise could ensure sell-out crowds for every Scotland football international fixture at Murrayfield.
The financial calculations are based on an average of five major fixtures a season at an admission price of £30, although McKay appeared to exaggerate the 15,000 differential in capacity between the two grounds.
“We have the biggest stadium in Scotland with 67,000 seats and that gives us the opportunity to generate a significant amount of income,” said McKay. “I was told the story that, if you don’t have a successful team on the pitch, people won’t turn out. But it’s simply not true.
“If you market successfully and give people a good reason to come to the event, they will come. We’re now selling out rugby games we would never, ever have sold out in the past.
“Those 17,000 [sic] extra seats – if I look from a rugby point of view – with an average ticket price of £30, that’s £2 million. Transfer that to football and it’s £2 million a year for 20 years which could be re-invested into football in many different ways. We would work in many different ways, as we do right now with rugby, to ensure those 17,000 extra seats were sold out. We do it with the Pro14 in rugby, we do it with concerts – we had the Rolling Stones there recently with 50-60,000 people – and we would do it with football.”
McKay has been encouraged by the Scottish FA’s response to the Murrayfield bid which he believes has popular support among Scottish players and managers.
“We have hosted major football matches before and the feedback from players and coaches about our surface has been great,” he added.
“There has been daily dialogue between ourselves and the Scottish FA. If we were in a 400m race, we’re now into the last 100m.
“Most of the information we need to supply, we have supplied. They know everything they need to know about us. The feedback has been warmly received and very positive. I believe we’re in a great position and have an outstanding bid.”