MSPs have spoken out against the prospect of Scotland football games being switched to Murrayfield - but warned Hampden’s facilities must be transformed if matches stay there.
The SFA is currently weighing up a potential move to the home of rugby amid concerns over transport links and facilities at the historic Glasgow venue. A deal to stay put has now emerged after Queen’s Park, who formally own Hampden agreed to sell to the SFA, although the decision won’t be officially made until later this Summer.
Murrayfield chiefs yesterday upped the charm offensive with a tour of the of the stadium for football fans. The issue came under the spotlight at Holyrood where MSPs called for football to remain at its spiritual home, but called for improvements to current site.
Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan, whose constituency covers Hampden, said: “My hope is that if the SNP are getting Hampden for the song that they’re supposed to be getting it for there’s a commitment from them and others to redevelop it over a period of time to make sure they work with appropriate bodies to make sure that transport to and form the stadium is better than a lot of supporters are claiming.”
Among the gripes of supporters are the congestion they experience travelling to and from the ground as a result of poor travel links, as well the view and atmosphere inside the stadium because much of the seating is too far away from the pitch.
Mr Dornan said the stadium is part of Scotland’s “national psyche” since its construction in 1903. The stadium holds a list of records, including the 1937 clash with England which attracted a British record crowd of 149,000.
Fellow nationalist Kenneth Gibson also extolled Hampden’s place in the heart of Scots and said it has also played host to a number of Champions League finals and concerts over the years.
But he agreed that criticism of the facilities has been “legitimate”.
He said: “Upgrades could be made to enhance the safety and enjoyment of fans, however I believe that much of the criticism made of our national stadium is unjustified.”
Labour’s Glasgow Pollock MSP Johann Lamont said Hampden is “more than just a football ground”.
She added: “It’s the home of Scottish football, it’s a place of past footballing glory - the Scottish football museum based there is wonderful testament to that.”
But Tory MSP Graham Simpson said Hampden is “soul-less” and backed the move.
“The wall of noise is gone,” he said.
“Surely having a national stadium in the capital does make some sense.”