FERGUS McCann surfaced yesterday, with an open letter in the Herald, concerning the current debate about Hampden. On the grounds that “The Bunnet” will nearly always have something sensible to say about football – even though he is on the other side of the Atlantic most of the time – it was worth reading.
Fergus McCann - always worth a hearing
But, and there had to be a but, the letter was written by one of the elders of The Celtic Family, and, therefore, Mr McCann approached the Hampden problem from a Celtic point of view. Of course, had there been someone of similar stature from “the other side”, I dare say that person's letter would have been written from a Rangers' point of view.
The below the line comments were naturally, another exercise in Old Firm Whitabootery, albeit with the occasional intervention from a fan of one of the “diddy” clubs.
The problem with what do we do about the Hampden problem is – it keeps coming back to the sense of entitlement of the Hatfields and McCoys of Scottish football, and the Weegie belief that their city somehow “owns” Scottish football.
As I have repeatedly written, and I firmly believe – if we MUST have a “National Stadium”, then, perhaps we ought to do it properly.
- Build it on a greenfield site
- Ensure we have the best possible road and rail access
- Make it so the fans have an enjoyable experience
- Make it weather-proof
- Make it state of the art
- Make it suitable for multi-sport use and for international events
Now, building such a stadium would not be – as re-developing Hampden was – a cheap job, to be done piece-meal. Given the potential of “Old Firm” cup finals, or Scotland v England football or rugby internationals, it would need to be a 100,000-capacity, roofed stadium, with an all-weather 4G pitch – you are going to need several hundred million pounds sterling to build it.
There is no way even a combined operation between the SFA and the SRU could afford to finance, far less build such a stadium, government would need to be involved. The devolved Scottish government could not afford it, even if the will to undertake the project was there – a national multi-sport stadium is a long way down any Scottish Government wish list.
Since it is a “National” stadium, might the UK Government get involved? Don't be silly, Westminster's notions of nationhood end at the M25. The Thatcher government of the 1980s was not moved to put money into upgrading the slum that Hampden had become back then – does anyone expect Thatcher's Children in the 21st century Conservative Party to be any more favourable towards those troublesome, “subsidy junkie” “Sweaties”?
Again I repeat myself. A new, proper Scottish National Stadium will not be built until Scotland is again an independent nation. Even then, I would say such a project will be a long way down the wish list for any independent Scottish government. I am 70 now, I do not ever expect to see it built.
Decisions - decisions
So, it looks as if we are left, for the meantime, with making do. But, make do with what?
The SFA's official supporters club was recently asked for their views, 2923 fans replied, and only 15% - approximately 438 fans wanted to remain at Hampden. But, among the 85% or 2485 respondents who were anti-Hampden, opinion was split between the alternatives:
- Rotate the games around between Ibrox, Celtic Park and lesser football grounds
- Use Murrayfield
So, it can be seen, there are grounds for debate, alternatives to be discussed, however, it may well be that, after 114 years of a terrific history, the days of the third Hampden Park as our national stadium could be ending.
At the end of the day, it will all come down to money. And, when that happens, you can guarantee, the poor bloody fan will end up paying more for his football fix.