On the issue of staying at Hampden or moving to Murrayfield, I made my feelings very clear on these pages.
After a slight delay on making a decision, I am delighted the SFA reached an agreement with Queens Park to buy the National Stadium.
Of course, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter for making sure Glasgow remains the Home of Scottish Football. By making a combined donation in the region of £2.5m, it made sure the deal got over the line.
It brings to an end what I’m sure must have been a fraught and stressful period for the SFA powerbrokers.
But there is not time for patting one another on the back on Hampden’s sixth floor. The real work begins now and there is literally not a day to waste.
We all know that Hampden has been chosen as a venue for the Euro 2020 Finals and no serious work on the stadium can take place until after then.
However, that should not stop the decision-makers in our game from attempting to put a plan in place to modernise the stadium, turning it into a place that gives the spectator a five-star experience.
There can be no half measures. This is an opportunity to renovate and build something to be proud of for the next 40 or 50 years.
It’s a chance to start with a something of a clean slate, to turn Hampden Park and the surrounding area into a huge soccer centre, a football village. Link Lesser Hampden, Hampden Park and the Toryglen Football Centre with an overhead footbridge.
Integrate excellent footballing facilities from a training ground to the very best Sports Science facilities to first-class food outlets and hospitality. This is an opportunity to make it THE absolute place to be if you are a footballer, an athlete or fan.
Sure, that is going to take tens of millions of pounds and I realise that kind of funding will not be easy to find.
However, now that Lord Willie Haughey and Sir Tom Hunter have made clear their love for Hampden Park, keep both guys on board and tap into their expertise and business acumen.
What the SFA should not be doing is saying: “Well, thanks very much for your donation and all the very best”.
It would be madness and a dereliction of duty from our governing body if we allowed both men to slip away. They are highly intelligent and they will be full of brilliant ideas. Keep them around the table and tap into their knowledge.
They have a fabulous understanding of business and how to move the world forward. They will have the very best contacts in all sorts of walks of life and they must be given autonomy to go out there and investigate. I’d be surprised if they didn’t unearth a gem or two.
Willie and Tom have given our game a reprieve. We must not waste it.
The news about their seven-figure donation came on the back of an excellent result for Alex McLeish and the players against Albania. Steven Naismith scored both goals to give the team a deserved victory. Given the amount of possession the players enjoyed they could have scored more.
That said, let’s not overlook the contribution of Allan McGregor and the important save he made.
Outfield, I thought John McGinn was super. Yes, he made one or two mistakes with his distribution, but he never allowed that to get him down. No, he reacted in a positive manner to show a top-class mentality.
He has an abundance of energy and his willingness to drive forward into the final third and the opposition area really inspires those around him.
Our next competitive game in Group C1 is Israel away on October 11. I really do fancy the team to win over there. That leaves a double-header in November – Albania away and a home game against Israel to finish off.
Now, I don’t want to get too carried away, but wouldn’t it be fantastic for the whole nation if we went into that final encounter with our fate in our own hands?
I could just imagine Hampden being packed to capacity, the fans heading to the stadium in the knowledge that the team is just 90 minutes away from securing a play-off spot for 2020. I would most certainly be there to cheer on Alex and the players.
I’m sure the atmosphere would be electric and could well be up there with Hampden in 2003 when I was there for Scotland v Germany.
It was a Euro 2004 qualifier and the game finished 1-1. But I felt the punters were incredible that day and the passion they showed was as good as anything I’d ever seen.
Let’s hope it’s not too long before Hampden surpasses that.