SFA to remain at Hampden after rejecting Murrayfield switch
The Scottish Football Association will stay at Hampden Park and not relocate to BT Murrayfield.
The board of Scottish football’s governing body has been deliberating over the pros and cons of remaining in Glasgow or switching to Edinburgh, and have taken the decision to remain at the national stadium.
As part of the decision, the Scottish FA will buy the arena from Queen’s Park FC when the existing lease runs out in the summer of 2020, with a fee of £5 million agreed between the two parties.
Lord Willie Haughey, a former non-executive director at Celtic, has pledged half of that sum as “direct financial support” to the SFA.
The payment will allow the Spiders to adapt Lesser Hampden as the club’s new registered licensed ground for all matches.
It is understood that, without Lord Haughey’s input, the SFA would almost certainly have been forced into moving to Murrayfield.
The Scottish FA also hinted that redevelopment of Hampden may be possible through ownership, but did not go into detail.
Chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “Taking ownership of the Hampden Park site will create the potential to transform the home of Scottish football for the benefit of Scottish football fans. “We look forward to working with all interested parties to achieve an exciting and fan-friendly vision for Hampden Park.”
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Scottish FA President Alan McRae admitted it had been a “hugely difficult decision”, adding: “Today’s announcement has been the conclusion of a four-year process to review our national stadium beyond 2020.
“I would like to place on record our thanks to Scottish Rugby for their professionalism throughout the process.
“They made a truly compelling case to move to Edinburgh and gave us a very difficult decision to make.
“I would like to pay tribute to the inspiration, energy and hard work of Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson, and his Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay – both are true leaders in Scottish sport.”
McRae continued: “This decision is about what was best for Scottish football and our members. It is about the future of football in Scotland.”
Maxwell added: “Today is a big day for Scottish football. Hampden Park has been the spiritual home of Scottish football for over 100 years and has been central to our sport’s identity in this country.
“Our mission is to inspire a nation to love the game and having a home that we can call our own is an important part of that. It will enable us to drive investment into the game and give us the best chance to improve football in Scotland.
“While we are now committed to Hampden Park we also recognise that it needs to change. We have heard the fans’ views throughout the process and agree with them that we need to improve access, transport links and the overall experience. “We are committed to doing that. We have heard many voice their support for the stadium. We need collective action, driven by the Scottish FA, to ensure it remains the beating heart of Scottish football.”