Ex-Celtic chief Fergus McCann: No valid case for continued Hampden use

Former Celtic chief executive Fergus McCann has branded Hampden Park '˜a liability, not an asset' ahead of a crunch meeting about the national stadium's future.

Writing in the Herald newspaper, McCann recalled his memories of Hampden but also detailed the ‘mean-spirited behaviour of Queen’s Park officials’ when Celtic were renting the stadium during the 1994/95 campaign, as well as claiming that there is ‘no valid case’ for the continued use of the arena.

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McCann, who spearheaded the plans to develop a stadium for Celtic that would suit the club’s aims, wrote: “In charge of Celtic, and having to rent the stadium for the 94/95 season, I had to tolerate the mean-spirited behaviour of Queen’s Park officials throughout that period.

Fergus McCann greets Celtic fans at Celtic Park in August 2014. Picture: SNS Group

“This began with a clause in the lease – a ‘deal breaker’ as their attorney made clear – that forbade ‘the display of any foreign flag.’”

In the article, McCann hits out at the ‘efforts of Queen’s Park and its SFA cousins’ which had an effect on the cost of rebuilding Celtic Park.

McCann continues: “Celtic’s application for a £5 million Football Trust grant was turned down, while the Hampden renovation project received a total of £10 million.

“Sunderland received £5 million for their stadium - a project 30 per cent smaller than Celtic Park.”

What will Hampden's future be? Picture: John Devlin

The former Celtic chief hit out at the fact that ‘Glasgow’s number three stadium’ is used just a few times a year, for ‘Queen’s Park matches attended by a few people in the ‘elite’ south stand.’

The redevelopment of the arena cost £73 million - £64 million of which was taxpayers’ money, according to McCann.

Describing Celtic Park and Ibrox Park as ‘far superior’, McCann continues: “Why did this bad ‘investment’ occur? Whatever way you do the arithmetic, Hampden Park is a liability, not an asset.’

He adds: “Any financial comparison showing the net result of ad hoc renting of the best-suited venues in Glasgow, Edinburgh and elsewhere for Internationals, ‘neutral’ club finals and semi-finals, would show how big a mistake the £73 million of the Nineties and the present use of Hampden is.”

Fergus McCann greets Celtic fans at Celtic Park in August 2014. Picture: SNS Group

But the crux of McCann’s argument is based on other countries. Declaring ‘there is no valid case for continued use of Hampden Park’, he states: “[There is] no case for a Football Association to operate a stadium.

“Many countries, including the Netherlands, Italy and Spain have no national stadium or need for one.”

McCann’s suggestion for the future of Hampden centres on retaining the South Stand but demolishing the rest.

“Play Under-21 and other events there, possibly athletics; Queen’s Park to remain there and sell the rest of the land for £1 to the Scottish FA for it to create a Training Centre combined with Toryglen. The SFA has the money to do this, and benefit its clubs, and the football public, daily.”

What will Hampden's future be? Picture: John Devlin

McCann called on Scottish football to be ‘managed efficiently’ adding that the stadiums in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen - ‘all getting better’ - are capable of staging games ‘profitably for the benefit of all the clubs – and their supporters’.