Mulraney breathe fire on Hampden naysayers


Hampden Park major renovation will not happen soon Image: Hampden Park, Cal Umbra, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Hampden Park (Glasgow, Scotland, UK) is a stadium that the nation should be proud of, says Mike Mulraney, as the Scottish Football Association (FA) President revealed it would cost £250m to bring the ends behind the goals closer to the pitch.

‘The Herald’ stated that the national stadium has come in for criticism ever since its redevelopment in the 1990s with the road links and infrastructure around the ground and sightlines from the East and West Stands just two areas that have caused concern among the supporters.

The 51,866-capacity Hampden Park is a football stadium in the Mount Florida area of Glasgow, Scotland (UK) which is the national stadium of football in Scotland and home of the Scotland national football team.

Glasgow (UK)-based the Scottish Football Association is the governing body of football in Scotland and has the ultimate responsibility for the control and development of football in Scotland. The Members of the Scottish Football Association include clubs in Scotland, the affiliated national associations as well as the local associations.

‘The Herald’ further stated that Hampden’s critics contend that the old bowl shape leaves fans too far away from the action but Mulraney rubbished claims that the atmosphere is affected as a result, and said it would be unrealistic to copy the sort of refurbishment that has been carried out by the Bundesliga team VfB Stuttgart, for example, who brought the ends of their home stadium – the 60,058-capacity MHPArena in Stuttgart, Germany – closer to the playing field in 2011.

The architect behind that project, Eberhard Becker, said way back in 2018 that it would cost around £90m to carry out such a refurbishment at Hampden and he invited representatives from the Scottish FA to get in touch with him to discuss the feasibility of carrying out a similar project in Mount Florida.

But now, Mulraney – who made his personal fortune in construction – estimates those costs to have skyrocketed to around £250m.

With little to no prospect of such funding levels ever being available, the Scottish Football Association President wants to concentrate on funding access to facilities at the grassroots level and more realistic improvements that can be made to the national stadium. While also steadfastly believing that Hampden is nowhere near as bad as its critics would have you believe.

Maintained Mulraney, “It would take £250million to do it here. If someone wants to give me it, if the media want to run a campaign and do a fundraiser, I’m your man. But, in the meantime, I want five-year-old Jimmys and eight-year-old Jennys out on pitches playing football, I want older people to do walking football, I want the people who have been deprived of an opportunity to get one. If we do not have pitches we cannot build our game. All the people who say: ‘Build the women’s game’ you can’t build the women’s game if the pitches are full of boys. Are you going to take a boy off it to put a girl on? I love my national stadium, it’s great when we win. I couldn’t care if I was sitting on an upturned Irn Bru (Scottish carbonated soft drink) crate if I’m watching Scotland win. But I don’t want to be. I want to be in a National Stadium I am currently proud of and one that, when it’s finished, we’ll be prouder of because we’ll improve it as well.”

Mulraney announced a commitment to invest a record £50m in facilities over the next five years after the Scottish Football Association annual general meeting (AGM) was held recently, but those funds will be ringfenced, with none of that money going towards improvements at Hampden.

Mulraney was keen to stress though that while his main priority is improving access to the grassroots facilities, he will also be channeling his energy towards making Hampden as good as it can possibly be with the funds that are available to the game’s governing body – “100 percent. I have a dual task, I have also got to look at how we improve Hampden. Now, all those who say Hampden is not very good, it tends to be in the old days when we had 10,000 there and we got beat 1-0. Tell me, when I have 51,000 folk bouncing and the lights flashing and we have just qualified, who thinks its rubbish? Because I don’t. I think its bloody brilliant.”

The bashing of Hampden is, Mulraney believes, symptomatic of negativity throughout the Scottish society at large and that the stadium actually compares well to the more recently renovated arenas such as the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium in Wembley (UK).

He is hoping though that he can raise additional funds that can go towards improving the stadium further while being realistic about what can be achieved.

He added, “I have just been down to Wembley, and the fans are quite far away from the goals, believe it or not. Nobody speaks about it. I go around Europe and see it over and over again. What do Scots do? We kick ourselves. If we could kick ourselves with both feet we would. Well, guess what? I don’t, I’m proud of our national stadium. But, we will be out there, and I am out there, and we are looking at how we get different income to improve our national stadium. Of course, it needs to be improved. I’m a property guy, I think most people know that. You can’t sit on your asset, you need to sweat it, invest in it and improve it. That will not be included in the £50million [facilities pledge], anything that goes on that will be on top.”

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