Monday, 16 April 2012

The National Stadium

We eagerly await an all Edinburgh Scottish Cup Final with a meeting of the green & white of Hibs and the boys in maroon from down Georgie Road.
The venue of the game will be the National Stadium, Hampden Park, until 1950 the largest stadium in the world with a European record crowd set in 1937 of 149,547 and 2 years later 149,269 for the visits of England. 147,000 witnessed the Celtic – Aberdeen  1937 Cup Final, quite an occasion and still more than Wembley ever held.
Various stages of downright neglect and subsequent reconstruction has seen the capacity final settled at 52,000 in the new 5 star EUFA venue, 2000 less if segregation is implemented. The Champions League and Europa League Finals were held in Glasgow  with a combined crowd less than the 127,000 at the famous Real Madrid – Eintracht Frankfurt 1960 legendary final.
There is a clamour for Murrayfield with a capacity of 67,000, a bigger venue and not too far to travel for the fans. And why not?
Hampden is no longer the biggest ground in Glasgow and only ties with St James park as the 5th biggest in the UK! Compare it the The Emirates!
It is the home of Scottish football and resounds to the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, but is it a good ground?  I contend that it not always the best.
The designers of the new stadium were hindered by budget constraints and a lack of vision. In retaining the bowl it marginalised the atmosphere, the terraces complete with seats are far to shallow, any seat near the front offers a poor view of the game.
52,000 is a strange figure and why was this chosen? Celtic have to play the cup finals in a stadium smaller than their own. Ranger’s fans will complain that the smaller teams get too big an allocation for the finals. Hibs & Hearts fans want Murrayfield. The question is where were the representatives of these clubs when the new Hampden was being planned?
Rangers offered the new Ibrox as a possible home for Scotland Internationals in 1980 with their stadium at the time sized at only 45,000 and were seen by many to be partly responsible for the then governments refusal to cough up with the promised millions for a new ground fit for Scotland.
Prior to the planning and rebuild in the 1990's Scotland's national team and cup finals regularly had crowds  exceeding 60,000. The present stadium makes little sense until the fans grab the atmosphere and even then only in big games.
I am a lover of Hampden, the history is remarkable, however 3 sides of the ground are below sub-standard. I cringe and despair when I land up with ticket behind the goals.
Watch and marvel at the new German stadiums, they did not cost a fortune.
This year’s final will be played at Hampden and there will be a great atmosphere and with luck there will be an exciting finale to the season, however we all know that the ground is not fit for purpose, it pales in comparison to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, and the Arriva Stadium in Dublin may be strange it is however quite stunning. Hampden is not.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. The South Stand and 5 star status was not a cheap option though. They spent the budget on facilities that suit the blazeratti and satisfied UEFA's contraints. There's a tunnel underneath it! Why? If you are not in the South Stand then the view is woeful although even I could tell from my vantage point at the back of the Celtic end that was never a penalty last Sunday!