THE Scottish Football Association has been given considerable encouragement that Hampden will be one of the venues for the ground-breaking European Championship finals in 2020.
In a dramatic change from the normal format, UEFA will stage the 2020 event at 13 venues across Europe and 32 national associations have made bids, including Scotland.
There were fears that Hampden would be ruled out from holding three group games and either a last 16 or quarter-final match because of a lack of corporate hospitality facilities. However, SFA president Campbell Ogilvie has revealed that UEFA has set aside that criterion and will still consider Hampden, which hosted the 2002 Champions League final and the 2007 UEFA Cup final.
Indeed, the infrastructure and facilities in Glasgow and the fact that UEFA wants to try to use stadiums that have yet to host Euro finals matches means Hampden is now a very strong contender.
Ogilvie received the good news at the UEFA Conference in Dubrovnik last month when he attended with chief executive Stewart Regan.
Ogilvie said: “At the first round of discussions we would not have qualified because of the criteria for 80 sky boxes. We only have 30 and it would have cost us £10 million to build temporary boxes – so it was something we couldn’t do.
“The whole concept of spreading the Euros around different venues was for inclusion on the 60th anniversary but if every venue had to have 80 sky boxes then it would not have been very inclusive.
“I think UEFA have taken that on board and looked at other things and from that point of view we are in a strong position.
“It’s not just about stadiums, it’s about what each city can offer and Glasgow has so much to offer
“It’s about hotels, other accommodation and facilities for supporters as well as the grounds and we have three international airports in close proximity. One of the reasons the change was made to 13 venues was to allow places that wouldn’t normally have the chance to stage such major finals matches. It would be good for the country if we could win this bid.”
Ogilvie, as a member of the National Teams Competition Committee, is also heavily involved in the debate over the qualifying process for Euro 2016 when the tournament is expanded to 24 teams – nearly half of UEFA’s members.
Clearly it represents a terrific chance for Scotland to end their exile from such events which stretches back to the 1998 World Cup in France and the Scots will be ranked in Pot 4 when the draw is made on February 23 next year.
Ogilvie said: “Obviously it means more teams have a chance to get there. The debate is that, with about 45 per cent of the members playing in the finals, some of the bigger countries are talking about this watering down the qualifying games in the sense that some teams will be qualifying very early.
“Last month I was in Dubrovnik with Stewart Regan and this topic was the main one discussed. It will be the same at next month’s National Teams Competition Committee meeting.
“The current set-up is nine groups and the bulk of countries would prefer that this stays in place as it would mean the top two qualify plus play-offs.”