Ex-Scotland boss Craig Levein backs football internationals at Murrayfield

Craig Levein has urged the Scottish Football Association to use BT Murrayfield for big Scotland games in the future.

Hearts manager and former Scotland boss Craig Levein would like to see big internationsl football matches at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

The former Scotland manager, whose Hearts side have been playing at the home of Scottish rugby while Tynecastle is redeveloped, can see no reason why Scotland should not move away from Hampden Park when the current lease expires in 2020.

Hampden has been chosen to host games as part of that summer’s European Championships but its use as the venue for the country’s showcase matches thereafter is in doubt, with the SFA exploring alternatives.

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The SFA body rents the Mount Florida stadium at a cost of more than £1 million a year from owners Hampden Ltd but that would be expected to rise to around £1.35m in any new long-term lease, leading to suggestions that it may be time for change.

Many fans argue that the 52,000 capacity ground is no longer fit for purpose due to the gradient of the stands, the distance of seats from the pitch and the poor transport links and traffic accessibility.

Murrayfield, which holds 67,000 has been put forward as one alternative, with others suggesting international matches should be taken around the country and geographically suitable club grounds used for cup semi-finals and finals.

Levein said: “I think times they are a-changing. Things are moving on, so I don’t think there are any big barriers [to leaving Hampden].

“Having been the Scotland manager I don’t want to get too involved in the politics of it but it would be reasonable for me to say that Murrayfield has been a very good experience.”

“The pitch is fantastic, the dressing rooms are great and the atmosphere was good, particularly in the Rangers and Aberdeen games.

“I would imagine that the idea would be to play some smaller matches at other grounds and Murrayfield would host the big games. That makes sense.

“I’ve been to one Scotland rugby international there, against England three or four years ago. The pitch was terrible and we didn’t play very well. But the pitch was replaced with a synthetic-grass hybrid one, which has been excellent for our games there.

“As an international venue, I can’t see anything negative that would be any reason why it shouldn’t be tried anyway.”

Levein added: “I quite like the idea of Scotland games going round the country.

“For the smaller games you could go to Tynecastle, Easter Road or Aberdeen and get a full house. Then for the big games you could sell out Murrayfield. If we played England there it would be full, it’s a simple as that.”