An upgraded Murrayfield could feature alongside a revamped Hampden in any bid for the 2030 Fifa World Cup, UK Sport chiefs have said.
The drafting of a feasibility study to determine whether the showpiece might be co-hosted by the British home nations and Ireland has already commenced with the English Football Association taking the lead in crunching the numbers in conjunction with planners at the UK government’s sporting agency.
Not only would a pitch for the event require hefty financial backing from the Treasury but it would also need to demonstrate the top-class infrastructure befitting one of the crown jewels of global sport.
UK Sport’s head of major events Esther Britten said: “The stadium criteria will be very high and we’d have to look at having enough stadia.
“There would be options to make Murrayfield and Hampden upgraded at that time.”
That the home of Scottish rugby should be earmarked as a venue makes sense with its large capacity and proven record of coping with varied major events.
And while the Scottish FA have openly trumpeted the idea of a World Cup as a catalyst for modernising Hampden following their recent agreement to purchase the ground from Queen’s Park, UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger believes a bid might offer an ideal chance to refit Murrayfield, which lacks many of the customer-focused amenities expected from modern stadia.
“Scotland has got some great venues with amazing history and tradition and some iconic stadia but like all of us, they get a bit older and need some upgrading and attention at times,” the Scottish rowing legend said.
“The good thing is that hosting events is very competitive as an industry and not only do you need to show the calibre of event you can organise but the venue is very important. If there are venues that could do with a bit of upgrading, it can be a win-win all round.”
Hampden has already been granted fixtures in the early stages of the 2020 European football championship, which will have its final at Wembley in London. Beyond that, over 60 events could be targeted by UK Sport over the next 15 years with a bid for the 2026 Ryder Cup earmarked for England, and Wales.
There is also interest in a pursuit for the starts of all three of cycling’s Grand Tours.
However Scotland is set for its share of attention, with the women’s world curling championships, skiing’s world cross country and another edition of the European diving championships all under active consideration.
Any wealth generated should be spread as widely as possible, believes Grainger.
“The last few years, we’ve seen Glasgow host some amazing events including the Commonwealth Games and European Championships in amazing venues with brilliant crowds. But, in the same way you don’t want things to get too London-centric in England, you don’t want things to get too Glasgow-centric in Scotland.
So the more that other cities can showcase events, and get the local people involved, the better it is for the whole nation.”