Queen’s Park members were stunned to learn at a packed meeting that the Scottish FA had looked to buy the National Stadium at Hampden for £1.
The Spiders had called together their members to discuss their future after last week’s announcement that their 115-year-old ground was to be sold for £5.1 million to the governing body when a lease between the parties expires in 2020.
Hampden was in a race with Edinburgh’s Murrayfield to become the home of international matches and major cup ties and Queen’s members heard at the meeting that the SFA had used the liabilities that Queen’s would have to pay for their ground no longer being the National Stadium to drive the club out.
These liabilities totalled approximately £18m and were due to the National Lottery for their funding when the stadium was redeveloped in the 1990s and to Hampden debenture holders.
Queen’s had agreed to sell the ground, which was valued at more than £25m, as part of the negotiations back in March. However, they were blown away when their agreement was met by an offer of a solitary £1 by the SFA.
The League 2 club’s committee stood firm with their desire to get a figure as close as possible to the valuation of the ground minus the liabilities despite the continued threat of the home of Scottish football becoming entwined with the home of rugby.
A member at the meeting commented: “The opening offer to buy Hampden for £1 by the Scottish FA is an insult as far as I am concerned. “One hundred and fifteen years of unique footballing history as well as the actual physical stadium for £1.
“To eventually get the price up to £5.1m appears to have been a great achievement by the committee and they deserve credit for that.
“They showed a lot of courage to stand up to the threat of Hampden no longer being the home of Scottish football and also for going against the advice that they were given by the advisors they brought in to help.
“They told them to settle for £2m. However, the committee stood firm to get a higher price.
“The deadlines on accepting any deal were placed on Queen’s without any consultation and the feeling from the people in the room was that the SFA was holding a gun to the club’s head.”
The member, who did not wish to be named, added: “Whether that is the way to behave with a member club, Scotland’s oldest club, and indeed the club that formed the SFA, is a matter for the conscience of the people at the SFA.
“The committee were not happy at the deal but their belief was that high-end football would have moved to Murrayfield had they not agreed to sell Hampden. They were also kept in the dark over the role that Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter played in helping to finance the deal. They only knew about their involvement when it was announced in the press.”
“Bizarrely, at the end of it all the SFA have offered Queen’s a loan at commercial rates to help redevelop Lesser Hampden and the feeling last night was to tell them to get lost.”
“We have to look at the move as a new future for the club with or without the help of the Scottish FA.”