The playing surface at the National Stadium is in a shocking state, just three weeks ahead of the League Cup Final between Hibs and Ross County.
A combination of one of the wettest winters in living memory, and heavy use from Queen’s Park, a semi-final, Scotland internationals and even a rock concert have combined to leave the pitch in a shocking state.
The goalmouths are heavily sanded, a grassless band stretches from the Main Stand touchline to the centre circle and other areas of the pitch have more mud than grass.
The state of Hampden was severely criticised last season following the League Cup semi-finals between Celtic and Rangers, and Aberdeen against Dundee United.
On the back of that criticism, the pitch was re-laid in time for the Final.
But there are no such plans this season.
And the serious concerns in Hampden circles over the state of the pitch could well turn to embarrassment come Cup Final day on Sunday, March 13.
It seems certain the issue will now have to be discussed between all relevant bodies – Hampden Park Limited, the SPFL, the SFA and Queen’s Park, as well as the participating clubs.
Pitches have been grabbing the headlines in recent weeks, with Rangers manager Mark Warburton and his club particularly critical over the artificial surface at Rugby Park.
Last night, former SFA Chief Executive Gordon Smith said: “If this is the standard of pitch we get served up for the Final at Hampden, then I think questions will be asked.
“If you look at the pictures, it is clear the surface is not great – and this is a showpiece occasion we are talking about.
“For me the bottom line is always money. Everyone loves grass pitches but they cost a lot of money to keep in top condition.
“The English Premier League manage it but we are handicapped up here because the climate is harsher than they get south of the border.
“There is a lot of debate about artificial surfaces at the moment.
“But if the people in charge are not prepared to put the money then who knows – maybe 4G is the answer for Hampden.”
Pictures from last weekend’s League Two fixture between Queen’s Park and East Stirling show that the surface is in a bad way.
And to make things worse, there could be a fair bit more deterioration to come.
The Spiders have two home fixtures – at home to East Fife on Saturday and Berwick Rangers on Saturday, March 5 – before the big day.
At first glance, the seemingly obvious option would be for them to switch their upcoming two home games to Lesser Hampden.
That’s not possible, though, on two counts.
First, Lesser Hampden has an artificial pitch and clubs are not permitted to jump about between surfaces mid-season as it would potentially disadvantage specific opponents.
Secondly, the smaller ground does not have a safety licence in place to host the League Two fixtures.
Ironically, one of the finalists, Ross County, are understood to have played their part in roughing up the surface.
Their semi-final victory over Celtic at the historic Glasgow ground at the end of last month was fought out in heavy rain.
That only added to the problems left over from an earlier Queen’s Park game against Montrose on a day of heavy snowfall.
One small blessing was that the amateurs were at least away from home yesterday following an onslaught of rain which caused the postponement of Partick Thistle’s Premiership game with
Aberdeen across the city at Firhill on Friday night.
Hampden has been heavily used over the past couple of years.
It was the main athletics venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and was also used for the closing ceremony.
That saw no football played in Mount Florida for almost a year, but the pitch was soon the target of heavy criticism.
It was then re-laid, but its recovery from the return of football won’t have been helped by having AC/DC and thousands of their fans on the pitch last June.
There will be little respite for the playing surface this summer, either, with Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Rihanna and Beyonce all scheduled to play at Hampden in June and July.
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