SCOTLAND’S national football stadium Hampden Park is at the centre of a developing row over its future.

Fewer than 20 years after the stadium was rebuilt at a cost of more than £63 million, much of it from Lottery or public funds, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) is considering terminating their lease of the stadium, which also hosts the association’s offices and those of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL).

The SFA has a lease from Queen’s Park FC, owners of the stadium, which expires in 2020, though the association has an option to renew it. In an exercise they have called Project Bright, though some cynics have called it Project Dim, the SFA has begun to look at alternatives, which would mean major internationals no longer being played at Hampden and the SFA, SPFL and presumably the National Football Museum all moving out of the stadium, which has been in existence on the site since 1903.

The SFA is due to make a decision on the matter this year, and not without hyperbole has it been called the most important decision the association will make for the foreseeable future.


NO-ONE disputes that the Old Lady of Mount Florida – present capacity 52,000 - is not the same as she was. How could she be when she was once the largest football stadium in the world and set European attendance records that cannot ever be beaten?

For instance, until the building of the Maracana Stadium in Brazil, Hampden was the world’s largest stadium for nearly 50 years with a nominal capacity at its peak of 180,000. The pre-war world attendance record was the Scotland v England match on April 17, 1937, which had a paying attendance of 149,415, though at least 20,000 more people entered the ground without tickets.

A week after that match, the Celtic v Aberdeen Scottish Cup final attracted 147,365 paying spectators, again a world record at the time and still a European record for a club match – and plenty supporters got in without tickets that day.

Even as late as 1970, Hampden was still setting records, with the Celtic v Leeds United European Cup semi-final on 1970 seeing an official attendance of 136,505 which is the all-time record for a European tournament club match and which can never be beaten as there are simply no stadia of that capacity in existence in Europe.


IT wasn’t just the size of the crowds, it was the football they saw. By common consent the greatest European Cup final, and maybe the greatest of all club matches, was the Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt game on May 18, 1960. More than 127,000 fans, by far the most of them neutral Scots, saw the Spaniards win 7-3 with a display of dazzling football that influenced football for years to come.

Over 11 decades, and with very few exceptions, all the major Scotland internationals and the finals of the Scottish Cup and latterly the Scottish League Cup have been played at Hampden.

So many memories emanate from Hampden Park, which is why it is often called the Home of Scottish Football.


DESPITE all that history and the fact that Hampden Park is still top-ranked by European governing body UEFA, the SFA might want to move away from “the national football stadium” – as it is called on the SFA website – after matches in the European Championships 2020 are played there. Should Scotland qualify, at least two of the national team’s matches in Euro 2020 would be played at Hampden, only for it to cease to be the national stadium shortly afterwards if the SFA cancels the lease.

There has been growing controversy over the possible move with Queen’s Park FC – one of the founders of the SFA – angered that the stadium has been the subject of criticism, so much so that they released figures showing how the SFA gets a good deal. The lease costs £800,000 a year but the latest SFA accounts show a decreased profit and speculation is that the move is money driven, though fans’ surveys have also shown increasing discontent with Hampden.


THE actual plan has been kept a tight secret, but it is known that one scenario would see internationals and cup finals played at Murrayfield, the home of the Scottish Rugby Union which is the largest stadium in Scotland with a capacity of 67,500 – yet would Scottish football clubs like to see money going to rugby? A second scenario sees major internationals being played at Celtic Park or Ibrox, but there are objections within Scottish football to giving the Big Two even more money.


QUEEN’S Park have said they could no longer afford its upkeep so unless a new use could be found for it – converted for athletics and other sports with a reduced capacity, perhaps – Hampden would presumably be sold off for housing or some other use.