Scottish Government open to discussions over Hampden – Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the Scottish Government is “open to discussions” on the future of Hampden.

Scottish Football Association chiefs are set to investigate plans to renovate the national stadium after opting out of a move to Murrayfield.

The governing body’s chief executive Ian Maxwell has called for “collective action” to transform the ground – heavily criticised by the Tartan Army for the overall experience it provides and especially the views on offer from the two stands behind the goals – and hopes to persuade Holyrood bosses to help pay for the refurbishment work.

The SFA announced earlier this month it had struck a £5million deal to buy Hampden from Queen’s Park but that was only made possible after businessmen Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter stepped forward to donate around half the purchase cost.

Maxwell has already stated the SFA could look to follow the model used by VfB Stuttgart when they removed the running track from their Mercedes-Benz Arena in 2011 – although experts have warned it could cost up to £90million to replicate that project in Glasgow.

Now Ms Sturgeon says she is happy to hold talks with Hampden chiefs to see how the Government can assist.

The First Minister – whose Glasgow Southside constituency neighbours the district covering the home of Scottish Football – told Radio Clyde: “[Staying at Hampden] was a decision for the SFA. I get the sense that a lot of people across the country are pleased with that decision.

“Clearly it was controversial and there are people who will think another decision should have been made.

“As a member of parliament for the south side of Glasgow, I’m glad to see the national team staying here at Hampden. Now it’s about looking to the future.

“We will continue to have discussions with the SFA.

“Money is tight, it’s always tight for all sorts of things but we are a great supporter of what is done here around football so we are open to discussions over the medium to long-term.”

Ms Sturgeon was speaking as it was confirmed Scotland Women will be able to train full-time for next year’s World Cup thanks to a Government funding boost.
 
Holyrood chiefs have pledged around £80,000 in extra cash to Shelley Kerr’s team to ensure the members of her squad not currently professionals are able to prepare for next summer’s finals in France full-time from January.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m proud to be patron of the Scotland women’s national team and it’s been fantastic to see the hard work of the squad and staff pay off with their qualification for the FIFA World Cup next year.
 
“This funding will allow all members of the squad to train full-time from January 2019 through to the World Cup in the summer.
 
“This will help to strengthen women and girls’ football in Scotland, and give Shelley (Kerr) and her squad the best chance of success in the finals.
 
“We want to increase participation of women and girls in sport and I hope the success of the women’s team inspires more women and girls to get involved in sport, from grassroots activity to elite level.”
 
Scotland head coach Kerr added: “We are in a fortunate position where a number of our players are already playing football full-time and this agreement allows all of our squad to be at their optimal best when the tournament comes around.”

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