Scott Brown has claimed that Hampden Park is a “laughing stock” in the eyes of world football due to the state of the national stadium pitch.
With an Old Firm Scottish Cup semi-final due to be played at Hampden next month, the Scotland captain embarrassed the Scottish Football Association by slamming a pitch which was re-lain as recently as last month, ahead of the League Cup final.
Brown entered the the SFA Hall of Fame by winning his 50th cap in Tuesday’s 1-0 friendly win over Denmarkbut afterwards descired the playing surface as “bang average, as always”.
He added that the consistently poor quality of the pitch is potentially damaging to such showpiece occasions as the Scottish Cup semi-finals, when Hibernian play Dundee United and Brown’s Celtic take on Rangers.
Describing the hybrid pitch at Murrayfield, where Celtic played two Champions League qualifiers last season, as “excellent” by comparison, Brown’s only compliment to Hampden was of the backhanded variety ahead of the eagerly awaited Old Firm encounter on 17 April. He predicted it might at least be better than was the case for last year’s League Cup semi-final between the teams, played on a widely derided rutted pitch.
“It probably won’t be the best,” he said. “We just have to accept that every time we come here.
“Thinking the worst, if you can play on what we did against Rangers last year then you can play on anything.”
“That’s the point, sometimes we’re the laughing stock when it comes to that. That’s part and parcel of the game [here] these days. We can’t keep it in great nick all season because of the weather up here.
“We have to take that on board but it should be a lot better than it is.”
“Murrayfield is exceptional,” he added. “It’s flat and it’s nice. When we played on that last season with Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers it was unbelievable. That was one of the best pitches I’ve played on.”
While Tuesday’s clash against Denmark was only a friendly it was designed to test out young players such as Kieran Tierney and John McGinn. Brown believes they and others are being let down by the quality of the park, on which Queen’s Park play their home Scottish League Two fixtures.
“It [the pitch] was bang average as always,” he said. “That’s what happens when you play somewhere that’s used week-in, week-out. You don’t see that happen down in England, but that’s football, and that’s good old Scotland for us.
“A new pitch always takes four to six weeks to bed in and it’s not had that time and it’s always going to be a bit slippy with bit of rain. But it’s a lot better than it was last year at this time.”
The SFA lease Hampden from Hampden Park Ltd, a company set up in 2000. The lease runs out in 2020, when Scotland are due to host games at the Euro 2020 finals, although there is also a twenty-year option. SFA chief executive Stewart Regan revealed two years ago that a consultancy firm had been employed to investigate the pros and cons of leaving Hampden, where a crowd of only 18,385 watched Tuesday’s win over Denmark.