Mixu Paatelainen has spoken out in favour of retaining Hampden as the national football stadium, claiming it is an expression of just how integral the sport is to Scottish society.
The Dundee United manager, who will lead his team out in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup at the arena on Saturday, says it is also a way to safeguard the magic of the main cup competitions.
The Scottish FA lease expires in 2020 and various options have been explored by a consultancy firm, including moving away from Mount Florida, and playing internationals and prestigious cup games at different venues around the country.
But Paatelainen said: “Absolutely, I would keep Hampden. There are not too many countries in the world that have their own national stadium and I think it is fantastic and it shows the culture there and shows how important football is to those countries.
“I see having Hampden as a good thing because straight away people see that this is a football nation.”
Opened on the current site in 1903, it was the biggest stadium in the world at the time but recent attendances and complaints about the views and the dilution of the world-famous Hampden Roar since it became an all-seated venue, have fuelled the argument to take the key fixtures on the road. But Paatelainen believes that would be unfair on teams who make it to the later stages of cup contests and deny international players the memory of walking out at a national stadium.
“I can appreciate the argument that if the national team plays all over the country at different venues then they can get closer to more supporters, but going to Hampden for cup semi-finals and for finals does make it a special occasion. I like that and the players work hard to get there and they deserve to walk out there instead of Parkhead or Ibrox, or wherever they usually play league games. That is not so special.
“I think Hampden is a special stadium because of the heritage and the tradition and it is wonderful to play there. I would keep it.”