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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
SFA takes Hampden control
Hampden
The National Stadium was millions of pounds in debt
Scotland's national football stadium has been saved from financial ruin after months of wrangling over its future.

The 60m rebuilt Hampden Park stadium will be run by the Scottish Football Association after debts of 5.75 were paid off by the project's co-funders.

The stadium has a bright future with many exciting events to stage and will be a showpiece for Scotland in 2002 as the venue for the Champions League Final

David Taylor, SFA
The move was announced by SFA chief executive David Taylor at the stadium after the final part of the deal was concluded.

The SFA has rented the stadium for a lease of 800,000 each year for the next 20 years, most of which will go to pay the debts of owners Queen's Park Football Club.

It will also take over management of the stadium from QPFC's subsidiary, The National Stadium Ltd, which will be wound up and the chief executive, Austin Reilly, is leaving.

Mr Taylor said the complex deal would guarantee the future of Hampden and end the long running uncertainty over its funding.
Austin Reilly
Austin Reilly: Leaving, as part of the deal
"The stadium has a bright future with many exciting events to stage and will be a showpiece for Scotland in 2002 as the venue for the Champions League Final," he said.

"The SFA is determined to make the stadium a centrepiece for our national sport for players, spectators and the administration of the game. We look forward to making this vision a reality."

Hampden had been saddled with debts of about 5.75m, which were believed to be rising at around 200,000 a week.

Mr Taylor said he could not give further details of the package but that the creditors would have their liabilities covered.

Public money

The Scottish Executive has contributed to the rescue package, the most recent sum being 600,000, announced last month. That figure was matched by Glasgow City Council.

This 1.2m was still not enough to close the funding gap, but Sports Minister Sam Galbraith said the administrators had successfully negotiated with other parties to cover the shortfall and allow the deal to be finalised.

Mr Taylor declined to elaborate on how the other funders, who include the Millennium Commission and Glasgow Development Agency, had covered the rest of the debt.
David Taylor
David Taylor: "Hampden has an exciting future"
But he said the SFA would aim to maximise the revenue it brought in from the stadium and was happy it would be a viable operation.

"A managing director is actively being sought to bring additional commercial and management expertise in stadium and facilities management," said Mr Taylor.

Under the deal, the 800,000 annual lease will consist of 200,000 paid annually to Queen's Park which will be index-linked, and 600,000 which will go directly to Queen's Park's debtors.

The club, which is the oldest in Scotland, went into administration at the end of February after failing to reach agreement over a 4.4m rescue package outlined at the end of December.

Writ sparked saga

The deal means the club will remain the owners, while the SFA will run the stadium for 20 years, with the possibility of extending that for another 20, as well as moving its operations to Hampden.

The long-running saga began when the project to revamp the 52,000-capacity venue ran into financial difficulties when construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd issued a writ in August demanding payment for work on the development.

Sam Galbraith said: "I hope that confidence in the project will be quickly restored and that the Scottish public and the corporate sector will recognise the benefits of involvement with a magnificent national asset, as existing sponsors such as BT and Coca Cola have done.
Brian Monteith
Brian Monteith: "Deal long overdue"
"When the Museum of Football, the lecture theatre and the sports injury clinic become operational and the football bodies move into office accommodation there, Hampden will enjoy a level of daily activity it has never had before."

The Tories' sports spokesman, Brian Monteith MSP, welcomed the deal's conclusion but described it as "long overdue".

"The Hampden fiasco dragged on for far too long and at too great a cost to the public purse and the education budget," he said.

"The forthcoming parliamentary enquiry by the education, culture and sport Committee will reveal why there were such problems, but we should all be pleased that the uncertainty has, at long last, come to an end."

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See also:

07 Mar 00 | Scotland
Hampden jigsaw complete
29 Feb 00 | Scotland
Hampden deal on hold
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