Hampden Park has lived to fight another day after it emerged the decision over the national stadium’s future could be delayed for up to two more weeks.
Following a lengthy meeting yesterday the Scottish FA board postponed a decision on whether to retain the Glasgow ground as the national football stadium or move high-profile matches, including Scotland internationals, to BT Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby.
The board has now requested fresh information to be delivered “within seven days” as the decision-making process goes into extra-time.
The members wants to see specific details from Queen’s Park, the owners of Hampden, and Scottish Rugby’s chief operating officer, Dominic McKay.
With Hampden preparing to host two international fixtures early next month, it’s understood the final verdict will be delayed until after the last of these matches, against Albania, on Monday 10 September.
The Nations League qualifier against Albania is manager Alex McLeish’s first competitive match in charge since returning to the role of Scotland manager. Scotland play Belgium in a friendly a week tomorrow.
A source said the decision on Hampden’s future will likely now be made “very soon” after the fixture with Albania. The Scotland squad will be based in Edinburgh next week and will train at the national sports performance centre at Oriam, on the outskirts of the capital.
The latest meeting about Hampden’s future was held yesterday at the stadium itself. After what were described as two days of “very productive discussions” the SFA said it will continue to weigh up where to base the national team and host William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals and finals. The momentous nature of the decision means the board members feel permitted to take their time.
The SFA board includes the association president Alan McRae, vice-president Rod Petrie and chief executive Ian Maxwell as well as Mike Mulraney, Neil Doncaster (both professional game board); Thomas McKeown (non professional game board) and Ana Stewart (independent non-executive director).
The time frame for deciding the national stadium’s fate was originally set for last year. But the decision-making process has been beset with hold-ups.
“This decision will have a significant bearing on the game in Scotland,” said Maxwell yesterday.
“We have asked both parties for additional information to be submitted within seven days to allow a final decision to be made.”
The SFA’s lease at Hampden expires in two years’ time and so board members are also examining a bid from Scottish Rugby to host matches.
The SFA had talks to buy Hampden from Queen’s Park for a reported £2 million but Scotland’s oldest club are understood to want more. The stadium is currently rented to the SFA for a reported annual cost of £300,000.
Scottish football’s governing body, while recognising Hampden’s historical place in the world game, want to investigate more financially viable options.
The SFA rejected a proposal in January for Rangers and Celtic to host internationals and cup finals.