University of Edinburgh
The Scottish Football Association decided to stay at Hampden and in this short review we consider some of the evidence, arguments and background to the decision.
While the costs of the Hampden v Murrayfield cases were different the final judgement may not have been just about economic costs but social, cultural, community and financial assets and voices that all needed to be listened too.
Prior to the decision The Scottish Football Association (SFA) rented the 115-year old ground from its Queen’s Park owners under the terms of a lease which expires in 2020.
In June 2017 the SFA reiterated that the preferred option was for Hampden Park to remain the home of the national game and that a decision would be made within 12-18 months.
14 months later and within the time scale set by the SFA the decision was made.
The historic case is no small thing. This is not just about the fact that: the origins of the relationship between football and Hampden go back to at least 1873; the oldest football international in the world is associated with Hampden; or that Hampden is part of the story of Glasgow at play that cannot be simply be relocated.
Scotland has given a lot to the world of sport and the relationship between football and Hampden is an important part of that success story. Glasgow has established itself as an emerging international sporting city and Hampden is part of that success story. It is the only Scottish city and one of only two UK cities in the top 20 sportcal index of international sporting cities. Hampden helps to connect Scotland and Glasgow with other parts of the world.
While Italy does not have a national football stadium a survey of FIFA members showed that 65% of UEFA members (Europe) 83% of CONCACAF (North, Central America’s and the Caribbean); 81% OF CAF(Asia); 80% of CONMEBOL (South America) and 41% of AFC (Africa) members all have national football stadiums.
The attempt by the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) to shift the football powers from Glasgow to Edinburgh was ambitious and the decision to bid may still have spin offs for the SRU. The competitive advantages of ground ownership, greater stadium capacity allowed the SRU to offer the SFA financial inducements of up to £2 million per annum.
The SRU recognise the pull of football. Global impact studies will show that one in five people around the world connect with football is someway or another. It has a pull and attraction that is unparalleled and Scotland has an internationally recognised foothold in this world that many sports would like to tap into.
The fact that football playing members of football governing bodies are more than double that of rugby would not have gone unnoticed. The gradual increase in playing members sees football growing from 120,000 playing members in 2014 to 137,134 by 2017 compared to rugby’s modest growth from 47,598 in 2014 to 48,654 in 2017. In terms of adult men and women and junior boys and girls football numbers are far higher than rugby.
This is not the golden age for opinion pols. A 2017 survey of Scottish football fans showed that: 15% of the 2,923 involved wanted Hampden Park to continue as the national stadium; 34% of fans favoured a move to Murrayfield; playing at grounds across Scotland was the preference of 25%; 24% wanted a “new Hampden” built while 97% believed fans should have input to the decision. But what were the views of the 67,887 Scottish Football Supporters Association members who didn’t take part in the survey? Were the views represented mainly those of the bigger clubs who would financially benefit from the demise the National Football Stadium?
The prospect of regular Old Firm football matches being played at Murrayfield prompted the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) to put a marker down about the additional human and financial costs associated with policing the M8 corridor should the move to Murrafield have been sanction by the SFA Board. It is one thing for an Edinburgh Tory councillor to suggest that this is just a matter of resources but it is another thing entirely to find such resources on a regular basis.
The SFA would certainly have had to contribute to the cost of Murrayfield policing. It is a matter of judgement as to whether scarce SFA resources should be spent on policing or grassroots community developments given the proven benefits of football in relation to social cohesion and crime reduction.
In a nation that believes that devolved power and voice should be listened to the Mount Florida Community Council made their views known. The third Hampden Park, located on Mount Florida some 500 yds south of it’s predecessor opened in 1903. In a letter to Hampden Park Limited the Mount Florida Community Council put forward the case for remain on the grounds of the cost to local heritage, the local economy and local identity.
Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken warned of a historic stain that would be impossible to erase should Hampden, Queens Park, King’s Park and Mount Florida be abandoned. The promise of increased capacities through the introduction of safe standing, improved transport links and a user friendly council to assist the SFA with any stadium alterations were all forthcoming. Glasgow City Council need to stand by promises made.
In someway Hampden suffered, as does Scottish sport, from not having a unified voice fighting and advocating for Hampden. The danger would be that Hampden and Scottish Football did not fully realise what it had until it was too late.
The reason why Hampden had to remain the national home of Scottish Football is that Hampden is the national and international recognised home of Scottish Football. Most FIFA member countries have national football stadiums. Hampden can and should be improved but it would have been be cultural theft and vandalism to move it out of it’s current location. Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen and the SRU may have gained financially in some small way if football moved away from Hampden but Scotland as a whole would lose nationally and internationally.
Scotland has a recognised base, role and reputation through football and therefore why would and should it have moved to a base where in the words of the SRU’s chief operating officer ‘Rugby has to take priority’. This is not mutuality, this is not equality, and it would not have been good for Scotland or Scottish football.
Scotland’s future with football looks bright and the most recent Social Return on Investment Report highlighted the fact that football was worth £1.25 billion to Scottish Society. At least four things are worth highlighting:
GIRLS’ AND WOMEN’S FOOTBALL
Continues to grow and develop, inspired by the Scottish Women’s
National Team qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019.
The Scottish FA have some ambitious targets to develop the game on and off the pitch. We have some of the best players in the world who act as role models for players and young people across Scotland.
HAMPDEN AS HOME
Ownership of Hampden Park will enable the Scottish FA to control the future of the stadium. It will open up opportunities to continue to develop the infrastructure and create a national stadium that could engage the next generation of football fans.
FOOTBALL FOR ALL
The Scottish FA are committed to working with clubs and partners to make football accessible for all. It aims to make our game as diverse as possible to represent our communities.
Scotland has some of the finest examples of community clubs in Europe. As clubs continue to grow and develop football has been working hard with the football family to
offer advice and guidance, both on and off the pitch, to allow clubs, no matter their place in the pathway to fulfil their ambitions.
FOOTBALL SRI FACTS
£200m to the economy
£300m worth of social benefits, including crime reduction
£700m worth of health benefits
Professor Grant Jarvie
University of Edinburgh