Hampden, the home of Scottish football for the past 111 years, may not remain the country’s national ground, it has emerged.
The Scottish Football Association is considering moving away from the world-famous ground when its lease on Hampden expires in 2020.
Such a move would see international matches and cup finals being played at another stadium. It would also mean the SFA finding offices elsewhere, as well as moving sports medicine facilities and the Scottish Football Museum.
The proposal to change the location of Scotland’s national football ground is one of several put forward following the hiring of a consultancy firm by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan.
It is believed the recommendations include exercising an option to renew the lease for a further 20 years or acquiring it outright from current owner Queen’s Park Football Club – Scotland’s oldest senior football club.
Mr Regan yesterday insisted Hampden remained a “key pillar” of the national game despite investigations into the prospect of vacating it in the future.
Although Hampden was granted “five-star” status by European football’s governing body Uefa following the completion of a £59 million redevelopment in 1999, its 52,000 capacity and corporate facilities now fall short of the standards necessary to host elite level fixtures.
The SFA has launched a bid for Hampden to be one of the host stadiums for the 2020 European Championship finals in 2020, but because of the ground’s current specifications, it is only eligible to stage games up to the last-16 phase.
“It is widely known that the Scottish FA’s lease on Hampden Park expires in 2020,” said Mr Regan in a statement yesterday. “Indeed, this matter was discussed publicly when we launched our Uefa Euro 2020 host bid earlier this year.
“It is our duty as a governing body to proactively explore all of the options available, in consultation with key stakeholders from across the game so that, in due course, we can make the correct decision for Scottish football.
“To that end, a consultancy firm has been engaged to thoroughly investigate the pros and cons of a number of options, and a briefing note was circulated to the Scottish FA and Hampden Park Limited boards ahead of Uefa’s Euro 2020 bid decision.
“I must stress this process is at a very early stage – no proposals have been put forward or considered, and it is hugely misleading to suggest the SFA is focusing on whether to move away from Hampden Park.
“Given its historical importance and its place in Scottish football, Hampden Park remains a key pillar of the national game.”
Hampden is currently used for Scotland internationals and major domestic cup finals, although this season the country’s biggest ground – Celtic Park – hosted the showpiece matches in the League Cup and Scottish Cup, due to redevelopment of the national stadium for use as an athletics facility for the Commonwealth Games.
League Two side Queen’s Park have been playing their home games at Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie during conversion work and will remain there until Hampden reverts to a football venue after the Games.
Speaking at the launch of the Euro 2020 bid in April, Mr Regan admitted that the Scottish FA could not afford to follow the lead of their English and Irish counterparts who have built completely new national stadiums in recent years.