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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK

UK: Scotland

Hampden rescue package agreed

The new Hampden Park has faced financial problems

A £4.4m rescue package to end Hampden Park's debt crisis has been agreed - just weeks before it is due to host a crunch match between Scotland and England.

The stadium's future has been in doubt since it was revealed debts from the ambitious redevelopment programme were spiralling out of control.

But funding for a rescue package will come from the Millennium Commission, the Scottish Executive, Sport Scotland, the Glasgow Development Agency and Glasgow City Council.

'Look to the future'

A legal dispute with main contractors Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd is also now expected to be settled.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith, Chairman of the Millennium Commission, said: "I am delighted that progress is being made on securing the future of Scotland's National Stadium at Hampden Park.

"It is now one of the best stadiums in Europe and it will be a lasting legacy for the people of Scotland.

"I am grateful to all those who have played a role in the necessarily complex negotiations over the last three months. Hopefully we can now start to put these difficult times behind us and look to the future."

'High quality management'

Scotland's top 10 football clubs previously voiced grave reservations about the plan to bail out the stadium.

Scottish Premier League Chief Executive Rodger Mitchell said the major clubs were concerned that good money would be thrown after bad.

[ image: Clubs voiced grave concerns]
Clubs voiced grave concerns
He said they feared the entire project would not prove to be viable in the long-term.

He also said any rescue would require high quality management with experience of running major stadia.

The financial problems at Hampden first emerged when the contractors launched a legal action to claim more than £4m in unpaid invoices following a £63m renovation of the stadium.

Further gaps in funding have led to debts currently estimated at more than £6m.

So far, more than £40m of the total cost of the project has been funded by public money, £24.2m of which has come from the Millennium Commission.

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