New Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell insists his personal affinity with Queen’s Park will not influence the imminent decision on whether Hampden remains as the home of Scottish football.
One of the first major issues facing Maxwell, who began his role as Stewart Regan’s successor on Monday, is the future of Hampden which faces an aggressive rival bid from Murrayfield to play host to Scotland internationals and major domestic cup finals.
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Hampden’s current lease expires in 2020 and the Scottish FA board are expected to make their choice no later than August this year.
Scottish Rugby has been lobbying hard for a move along the M8 to Edinburgh, while the potential sale of Hampden to the Scottish FA by owners Queen’s Park could be the key to retaining the status quo.
Maxwell began his playing career with Queen’s Park, making 173 appearances for the club between 1993 and 1998, but is adamant sentiment will play no part in the process he must now oversee.
“It absolutely can’t be a case of my heart ruling my head,” said Maxwell. “That’s not for the best interests of Scottish football. It’s not what my heart thinks, it’s what my head thinks.
“Murrayfield have gone through the process and engaged as much as Queen’s Park have. They’ve made no secret of the fact that they would love us to go there and we have to look at every different aspect, whether it’s operational, financial or strategic - all the different areas that you would look at when you are making that sort of decision and make the best one.
“Obviously I played at Queen’s Park and started my career there. Hampden means a lot to me. So, listen, I’ve got a lot of fondness for Queen’s Park but my job is now to make a decision based on the full membership and for the benefit of Scottish football, it’s not about me wanting Queen’s Park to do well or us to stay at Hampden.
“The board will make the right decision at the right time. I was on the SFA board and I got a bit of detail at that point. Obviously this has been a long process. When I came off the board, in order to apply for this job, I’ve missed a lot of that and I’m in the process of catching up with quite a lot, as you can imagine. We’ll see how the decision goes at the time.”
Another high priority item on Maxwell’s agenda is the replacement of two major sponsors of the Scottish FA. Two contracts expire next month - Vauxhall’s backing of the Scotland national team and Sky Sports’ coverage of the Scottish Cup.
“It’s urgent,” he admitted. “Any time you get to the end of a sponsorship contract and you don’t have a renewal, then it’s urgent. It’s an opportunity as well. There is a real feeling of freshness around it. We have the Nations League coming up. The commercial income is massively affected by performance on the pitch because that drives a lot of the football business. So there are opportunities there to tweak things and do things slightly differently and look at how we bring it in, what we bring in, why we bring it in and ways we can supplement that.
“We obviously have challenges in terms of sponsorship, TV deals, all that. Part of my remit is to increase that, drive that and make sure that we are maximising those commercial opportunities as much as we possibly can.”