Scottish Football Association to explore Hampden redevelopment

SFA has joined a bid to host Euro 2028.

By Press Association Published: 7 February 2022 - 4.02pm

The Scottish Football Association will hold talks with government over the potential redevelopment of Hampden as part of its joint bid to stage Euro 2028.

The five football federations across the UK and Ireland have confirmed they will push ahead with a bid to co-host the European Championship finals and abandon similar plans to stage the 2030 World Cup.

The football authorities expect to get the backing of the various governments in the coming weeks ahead of the March 23 deadline to register their intention to bid with UEFA.

Hampden has staged European finals in its current form and has about 50,000 seats but the viewing experience for fans in the lower areas of stands behind both goals is not optimal.

The SFA took ownership of the national stadium from Queen’s Park 18 months ago and is keen to improve it.

Ian Maxwell, right
Ian Maxwell, right, with Steve Clarke at Hampden (Jane Barlow/PA)

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “The stadium piece is an important one for us, there’s no doubt about that, and we need to look at exactly what hosting a Euro in 2028 can bring in terms of the development of Hampden.

“We are very much focused on developing Hampden and we need to engage with the Scottish Government primarily to see what hosting a Euro can help with in that regard.”

France used 10 stadiums in 2016 before Euro 2020 was spread across Europe, but the size of the tournament could be extended so no decisions have been made on venues.

UEFA normally requires a minimum capacity of 30,000, which could leave Ibrox, Celtic Park and possibly BT Murrayfield in the running to stage games in Scotland.

BT Murrayfield
BT Murrayfield is the biggest stadium in Scotland (Malcolm Mackenzie/PA)

When asked whether the SFA had held any talks with its rugby counterparts over the potential of using the 67,000-seat stadium in Edinburgh, Maxwell said: “We are not sure about venues in each country, that will depend on whether it’s a 24-team event or a 32-team event, and we will need to have those discussions at the time we know that detail, because obviously that can have an impact.”

It also remains unclear whether all five countries would qualify automatically for the tournament but Maxwell made clear just how much Scottish football benefited from Hampden Steve Clarke’s side at Euro 2020, almost a quarter of a century after Scotland’s previous major tournament appearance.

“Obviously we hosted matches in 2021 and were fortunate enough to be part of the tournament, and the impact that we saw on the game in this country was huge,” Maxwell said.

“We engaged with a significant number of Scots that weren’t really engaged with the national team before and weren’t really engaged much with football.

Hampden staged Euro 2020 games under crowd restrictions (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“All five national associations and the rest of Europe want the game to grow and develop and, our experience tells us, there is no better way to do that than to host a major event such as this and to reap the benefits from being involved.

“Obviously we all want to qualify and that will have a massive part to play as well but the benefit that we saw from being at our first tournament for a long, long time absolutely reinforces the desire and the benefits that can come from doing these events.”

Maxwell admitted Euro 2020 final venue Wembley would be a clear favourite to host the final again but stressed the bid was not English-led.

Scotland faced England at Wembley in the Euro 2020 finals (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s very much a collegiate bid,” he said. “We have been working very closely together, the five football associations, since the feasibility study was launched and we are absolutely all in it together. That’s the certainly the case.

“There will be a discussion with UEFA about venues. It makes sense that Wembley would be the firm favourite for the final. Whether that’s semi-finals as well, we can have those discussions at the right time.

“It’s very much a collegiate effort. England will obviously have more stadiums, they are a bigger country, that makes sense. But that doesn’t make them any bigger a part of the bid than the rest of us are.”

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