THERE are some things in life money just can’t buy.
Which is why at the end of the negotiation process to decide whether Hampden’s lease will be renewed in three years’ time, I fully expect the decision to be in the affirmative.
Having been the chief executive of the SFA from 2007 to 2010, I certainly appreciate the arguments for a change.
Many want to take the national team’s fixtures and the Cup Finals and semi-finals around the country, even to build a new national stadium from scratch.
It is a fact there are two grounds in Glasgow alone – Ibrox and Celtic Park – capable of generating a better big-game atmosphere.
We all know the reason for that.
Hampden, historically, has always had a track running around the outside of the playing surface. This has had many uses over the decades, from a running track to having been used as a speedway venue.
It has always meant fans have been slightly removed from the action.
So even when the ground is packed, it doesn’t quite have buzz to it you would hope for at our most-prestigious matches.
It is a situation which can be even more pronounced when we are talking about occasions involving two teams from outside the Old Firm.
Many make the argument that a semi-final between, say, Aberdeen and Dundee would be better served being played in the east of the country rather than two sets of supporters having to trail through to the west just because the contract states ties have to be played at Hampden.
With broadcasters often insisting on an early kick-off, you can have the scenario where fans are faced with the choice of getting up at the crack of dawn to make a long trip, or to instead simply watch it on TV.
The attendance figures make it obvious just how many opt for the easier option of the two.
The reason why they have to do so is the same one as to why Hampden Park Ltd will have been so keen on hosting athletics at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – money.
For Hampden to be viable as Scotland’s national stadium – hosting just a few international fixtures – it has to bring in revenue and the events mentioned are money makers.
As are the big-name concerts which, in times of bad weather anyway, can put a serious strain on the ability of the ground staff to keep the surface up to scratch.
The situation we witnessed in 2016 when the pitch had to be relaid three times wasn’t much good to anyone.
So, as I say, I see the arguments for moving out.
For renting the big club grounds when we need them, picking the most suitable for the specific occasion.
For moving all the offices based at the Mount Florida ground, covering all the different individual parts of our game.
But I don’t think it will happen. Because Hampden’s history is just too powerful a draw.
The 48,713 fans who watched the 2017 Scottish Cup Final did so at a ground which hosted 149,415 for Scotland’s clash with England in 1937, the European record for an international match.
There were 130,000 paying punters who enjoyed the astonishing 1960 European Cup Final in which Real Madrid defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.
And a television audience of millions witnessed the same Real Madrid return in 2002 to see off Bayer Leverkusen thanks to a winner from Zinedine Zidane, adjudged the best-ever in the competition’s Finals.
No Scotland fan present will ever forget Leigh Griffiths’ free-kick double against England in the 2-2 draw in the World Cup qualifier earlier this summer.
So, by all means, look at change, perhaps in the amount of rent Queen’s Park receive from the ground, or in introducing more flexibility in the allocation of semi-final venues.
But let’s stay at Hampden Park and cherish it for what it is – a historic national stadium.