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Finals proposal could lead to a Hampden make over

THE Scottish Football Association would use the windfall from a successful Euro 2020 bid to finance a major overhaul of Hampden.

The SFA, Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland have united to fund bid for Hampden to host in 2020 finals. Picture: SNS
The SFA, Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland have united to fund bid for Hampden to host in 2020 finals. Picture: SNS

The national stadium would be improved substantially if Glasgow is selected as one of the 13 host cities for the European Championship finals held in six years time. Euro 2020 will have 13 hosts, rather than the usual one or two, as a one-off gesture to celebrate the tournament's 60th birthday.

The SFA want Hampden to be one of the host grounds even though the governing body acknowledges it does not meet some of the criteria required for host venues, such as not having the required number of corporate boxes, electronic turnstiles or adequate Wi-Fi.

The Scottish Government, the SFA, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland would together meet the £9m cost of hosting three group stage matches and a last-16 tie. The SFA's belief is that the economic benefit of hosting the fixtures would be substantially more than the £15m raised when Hampden hosted the 2007 Uefa Cup final. Submitting a bid will cost the partners only around £60,000 and Uefa will announce the 13 successful bidding countries this September.

The SFA is confident that Uefa will be satisfied with the overall quality and the substance of the Hampden bid. The stadium hosted the 2002 Champions League final, the 2007 Uefa Cup final and football at the 2012 London Olympics. The SFA failed in a bid to host Euro 2008.

Being one of the hosts would not confer automatic qualification for Euro 2020 but if Hampden was one of the 13 venues, and Scotland qualified for the tournament, two of the national team's three group games would be held there. "That's why we are quite excited about the prospect that from 2016 teams onwards there are 24 teams qualifying," said Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive.

"In 2020 we could potentially have some of our performance school kids playing at Hampden for Scotland in the finals of a major competition. If you were to say what epitomises success for our performance strategy that would be a key one, for me."

The Scottish Government would contribute £3.5m to the £9m cost of a successful bid, with £3.3m coming from the SFA (most of it covered by the participation fee it would receive from Uefa), £2m from Glasgow City Council and £200,000 from EventScotland.

Regan said the SFA was financially secure but "the last thing we need is to put another millstone around the association's neck" by committing to building a new stadium. The SFA's lease of Hampden, from Queen's Park, ends in 2020 and a strategic decision will be taken on renegotiating the terms of that to cover, perhaps, the next 20 years.

"Having the ability to demonstrate to the world that we can stage major events at Hampden will certainly help our case to try and get support to develop the stadium," said Regan. "We wouldn't be making the bid if we didn't think Hampden had a role to play in 2020 and there will certainly be requirements within our budget to upgrade the facilities within Hampden.

"What we have got is a very famous stadium that's got a long history and heritage. It's got 52,000 seats which isn't at the top end of the profile but it's good enough to put us in the running for events like this. There does need to be some improvements."

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