Hampden owners Queen’s Park have asked SFA chief executive to explain his claim that it would cost “many, many millions of pounds” for the governing body to renew its lease of the national stadium.
Scotland’s oldest senior club currently receive around £300,000 a year in rent from the SFA via Hampden Park Limited – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SFA.
However, the SFA’s 20-year lease is due to expire in 2020, and following criticism about spectator sight lines and poor transport links, alternatives are being considered.
The Scottish Rugby Union has submitted a bid for Murrayfield to host games in future, leaving Queen’s Park concerned that they may be left with a white elephant on their hands. The amateurs are disputing Regan’s suggestion that the financial cost of renewing the lease on Hampden would be prohibitive.
Queen’s Park say the £308,907 rent they receive is more than matched by Hampden Park Limited’s sub-letting of space at the stadium to the Scottish Professional Football League, the Scottish Football Museum, the Hampden Injury Clinic and other bodies.
A club spokesperson said: “Over the past few weeks there have been many reports around the Scottish FA remaining or leaving Hampden. Most recently chief executive Stewart Regan has been quoted, by BBC Sport Football, as stating ‘We know it will cost many, many millions of pounds to stay for another term of a lease similar to what we have now.’
“This causes Queen’s Park, as owners of the national stadium, great concern. We have to date had no detailed access to any evidence to substantiate this statement and would seek confirmation from the Scottish FA that they have fulfilled their responsibilities, under the present lease, to maintain the stadium and further detailed evidence to support Mr Regan’s statement.”
The initial deal agreed in 2000 was for a 20-year lease of £800,000 a year that saw an index linked figure of £200,000 go to the amateur club, with the remainder being used to pay-off debts that the Spiders had incurred when the stadium was rebuilt.
A decrease in interest rates enabled the debts to be paid off six years early in August 2014, but the SFA have continued to pay the full amount. The difference of approximately £500,000 will be paid until 2020 to their wholly owned subsidiary, Hampden Park Limited, who manage the ground and events held in it on a daily basis. It means approximately £3 million of extra money will have been raised for the ground by 2020.
The Queen’s Park statement continued: “Whilst Mr Regan has stated it would take many, many millions of pounds to remain at Hampden, he has not clarified how much it would cost the SFA to leave Hampden. For the past 17 years the stadium has been successfully operated by Hampden Park Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the SFA, with many areas of revenue generation, including sponsors, naming rights, third party rentals and concerts.
“The present lease arrangements allow the SFA to work independently with a vast degree of flexibility and the ability and freedom, for example, to bid and be awarded matches from the 2020 Euros.
“The decision to remain or leave cannot be based purely on cost. The city of Glasgow and indeed Scotland could be greatly affected by the loss of the iconic Hampden Park, recognised worldwide as the home of Scottish Football.”
“Queen’s Park would further like to clarify that recent reports of rental of £800K per annum, being paid to Queen’s Park are incorrect. The vast proportion of the rental is retained by the Scottish FA to maintain the stadium.”