Brendan Rodgers has issued a withering critique of Hampden while endorsing Murrayfield as “a proper, well thought-out stadium”.
The Celtic manager, who will take his team to the Glasgow stadium for this afternoon’s Betfred Cup final against Motherwell, made his comments in relation to the questions over whether Hampden has a future as Scottish football’s home for internationals and major cup occasions.
The Scottish FA will decide next month whether to renew the lease on the ground – which is owned by Queen’s Park – or take fixtures round the country to Celtic Park, Ibrox, Easter Road, Tynecastle, Pittodrie and Murrayfield, as demand requires. Queen’s Park this week disputed the amount it would cost the SFA to remain at Hampden, with the reported figure of £800,000 believed to be arrived at by combining a £500,000 figure for upkeep with a £300,000 sum paid in rent to the League One club.
Rodgers restricted himself to the spectator experience in giving a poor assessment of what Hampden has to offer. “There are better stadiums. If we’re talking stadia then it’s not a great stadium,” he said. “If you’re talking access, comfort, the view of the game, there are many things about Hampden that are not good.
“It’s not ideal and I don’t know the real story behind the investment and how it was reformed. You always think about the supporters and I hear enough people saying it’s not very good. I’m the lucky one really that gets to stand at the side of the pitch. I always wonder about how much the people behind the goal really see.
“It’s one for the SFA to decide.
“When I came in, I said ‘well this is where we have to play the games, we’ve got to like it’. As long as the pitch is a good pitch and there’s posts either end then we’ve got to perform and we’ve got to find a way. It’ll be the same this weekend.
“My experience of it has been great of course [with wins in two cup finals and two semi-finals]. Sometimes the atmosphere is right up there at Hampden. After the Scotland v England game in June I remember people saying the whole place shook so it has the potential and possibility. But I’ve never been to the other stadiums. I know Hearts were playing at Murrayfield which looks a proper, well thought-out stadium.
“[The history and tradition] is the other side to Hampden. It’s where all the stories are, down the years right back to the black and white pictures.
“Real Madrid and European Cup and Champions League finals so there is a real historical element. I know there is a real mindset for a lot of negatives around Scotland but I try to look for real positives. I have enjoyed going there.”