Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, has suggested that safe standing could be introduced to Hampden Park as the stadium seeks to retain its position as the home of Scottish football.
The Scottish Football Association (SFA) is due to meet next week to discuss a bid by Hampden Park (pictured), which is located in Glasgow, to retain its national stadium status versus a separate proposal from Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) to host matches at Murrayfield.
In April, the SFA agreed a deal in principle to acquire Hampden Park from League One club Queen’s Park. Hampden Park has been the home of the Scottish national side since 1906, but the SFA has been considering moving to another venue, with Edinburgh’s Murrayfield mooted as a possible new site.
The SFA currently leases Hampden Park under a deal that is due to end in 2020, but should the agreement with Queen’s Park go through, the national governing body would take full control and ownership of the stadium.
The SFA is said to favour retaining Hampden Park as the home of Scottish football – something it would not have done if Queen’s Park had refused to sell. With the SFA due to make a decision, Aitken has written to the national governing body suggesting potential improvements to the stadium and why it should be retained as the home of the national team and key club finals.
According to Scottish newspaper The Herald, Aitken said that if Hampden’s owners were to make an application for safe standing areas, there would be “no obvious barriers” to it being given the go-ahead by the council.
Glasgow has served to pioneer safe standing in British football, with Premiership club Celtic having introduced 2,600 rail seats at its Celtic Park home. Safe standing has now been mooted for Hampden Park amid complaints over a lack of atmosphere and the view for fans situated behind the goals in the east and west stands.
Aitken said: “A regular discussion point about Hampden is the capacity to enhance the fan experience, particularly the sight lines at the east and west ends of the stadium.”
The Herald said Aitken outlined her belief that major redevelopment of the stadium was not the only means to address the criticism levelled at it. She said: “One of the most significant developments in fan experience in recent years has been pioneered in Glasgow, with Celtic Park successfully operating a safe standing area for the past two seasons.
“Interest in whether a similar scheme would appeal to other clubs and fans has not been limited to our other clubs in the city. Indeed, there has been correspondence from local authorities and senior clubs from across the UK, seeking more information about how we have facilitated safe standing in the city.”
Aitken added: “Were an application for a standing area at Hampden submitted to Glasgow City Council, providing it met all the relevant safety, stewarding and accessibility criteria, there would be no obvious barriers to the bid being approved by the authority.”
Image: Martin le Roy