'Hampden gets bad rep' - why Ian Maxwell hopeful of cash boost for national stadium from World Cup bid

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell is hopeful of making a “significant investment” in upgrading and refurbishing Hampden as part of the joint UK-Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup Finals.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell is excited by the prospect of Hampden being a key part of a UK-Ireland joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. (Photo by Bill Murray/SNS Group).
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell is excited by the prospect of Hampden being a key part of a UK-Ireland joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. (Photo by Bill Murray/SNS Group).

Both the Westminster and Holyrood governments have indicated their support for a proposal to stage the 48-team tournament in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

Maxwell says Hampden was warmly praised by UEFA officials after it hosted four games at the Euro 2020 finals this summer and insists Scotland’s National Stadium does not merit some of the criticism it receives at home.

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But the financial investment involved in a World Cup bid would be used to make changes to the 51,866-capacity venue on Glasgow’s south side.

“It’s an exciting prospect because there will be opportunities to look at stadium development, finance and what we could leverage off bringing a World Cup to Scotland,” said Maxwell. “That’s off the back of Hampden looking so good for the Euros. It looked brilliant, the pitch held up better than any other in the tournament.

“The feedback from UEFA about how the games were put on has been excellent, the supporter behaviour was excellent, so it’s good for Glasgow.

“Hampden gets a bit of a bad rep. It’s a narrative that people continue and I don’t believe anyone really thinks that.

“Anyone who has been here for a full cup final or a Scotland-England game will tell you how good it is when the stadium is full.

“That’s not to say we don’t need to do work on it. Stadiums of an age need a bit of TLC and it may be that Hampden needs a bit more than that. Nothing is off the table.

“But that’s part of the stadium strategy, working out what we’re doing – and how much it’s going to cost, as well as how we’re going to fund it.

“We’re going through the process. There are always options and, if you speak to any architect, they will blow you away with what can be done – but they don’t really care about costs.

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“We’ll need to decide on it fairly soon because it will be a significant investment. It makes sense, if we’re going to do anything, to do it when we’re showcasing the stadium on the world stage.

“It’s not straightforward. FIFA issue a technical specification document covering everything from stadium capacities to hotels in the vicinity.

“We’re going through that with the UK Home Nations governments and Ireland. The decision isn’t being taken until 2024.”

There are already confirmed rival joint bids from Portugal-Spain, Uruguay-Argentina-Chile-Paraguay and Bulgaria-Greece-Romania-Serbia. Morocco will also bid, potentially with Algeria and Tunisia, while Saudi Arabia and Italy are considering a cross-confederation bid.

Maxwell is confident the crowd disorder at Wembley before and during the Euro 2020 final in July will not negatively impact on the UK-Ireland bid.

“The English FA have launched a review, they want to understand what happened,” he said.

“But they’re two separate things. They will want to make sure it doesn’t happen again – but the 2030 bid sits outside of that. There will be a lot of countries that have ideas on what the best vote would be. We just have to make sure we put forward as strong a case as possible.”

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