Ditch Hampden Whimper and bring back the Roar

THE images released this week, showing the transformation of Hampden Park, reveal a new, world class, athletics arena.

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Congratulations should be offered to all involved, the stadium looks fantastic and will present a wonderful image of Glasgow during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

The transformation has ­involved raising the stadium surface area up by some six feet.

The track and field facilities now sit on 1000 base panels.

These base panels are in turn supported by some 6000 steel stilts.

In addition, the removal of eight rows of seats, now allows the crowd to be much closer to the action taking place.

It is amazing that these works have been completed in a matter of a few months and it did get me thinking somewhat about the future of the stadium, post Glasgow 2014.

As a young boy growing up, I remember Hampden and the huge crowds of more than 100,000.

While the facilities may have been rudimentary, the atmosphere was irreplaceable, giving rise to the Hampden Roar.

The stadium broke records across the world for its crowds, and struck fear into the opposition.

When the famous old stadium was refurbished, some 15 years ago, it would be fair to conclude that its atmosphere was lost.

The main stand and its facilities are simply world-class however, the other three sides of the stadium simply do not work.

The famous Hampden slopes were converted into single tier stands.

These stands have too shallow an angle and as a consequence, much of the noise made in the stadium, disappears into the sky.

At just over 50,000, the stadium is also too small, its capacity less than both Ibrox and Celtic Park.

The crowd are too far away from the action, which also lessens the atmosphere in the stadium.

All in all, this was a rather short sighted and second best refurbishment, which lost the stadiums acoustic impressiveness and resulted in the Hampden Roar, now being replaced by something of a Hampden Whimper.

Wouldn't it be a great legacy from Glasgow 2014, that the Tartan Army and football supporters across Scotland, were left with a stadium that had the atmosphere put back in.

If Hampden can be converted into an impressive, athletics arena in just a few months, surely it can be converted back into an impressive football stadium once more.

Alternatively, why not leave Hampden as a wonderful athletics legacy of Glasgow 2014, and build a new Hampden.

Why doesn't the SFA, Glasgow City Council and the private ­sector, all get together and deliver a new national football stadium, of which the country can be proud.

Glasgow has plenty of suitable, vacant sites and it would generate much-needed jobs.

We're a small country, it's our national sport, give us back our roar.

FOLLOWING last week's competing political projections, in relation to the costs of possible Scottish Independence, this week seen the publication of an independent report covering the same ground.

The report, issued by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, concluded that in the event of Independence, Scotland may be left with a financial deficit twice that of the rest of the UK.

It reflected that while policies like increased childcare may be popular with parents, they were likely to prove increasingly expensive.

The report draws the conclusion that the Scottish Governments White Paper, if delivered in full, would result in the need to cut services, or alternatively, the need to raise taxes, in order to balance the books.

I do however, detect some fiscal fatigue setting in to many of those who will be casting their vote in the Referendum.

This may produce an increased polarity between both Yes and No camps, which in turn may increase the importance of the more emotional approach to the Referendum.

Hearts and heads versus hearts and minds, perhaps. On a purely financial basis, some will say fine, others will be wary.

It may be that the financial priority of doing things right, becomes less important than doing the right things.

The Royal Bank of Scotland this week joined Lloyds in tightening mortgage lending controls.

The EU also joined the conversation making recommendations to the UK about building more houses and adjusting the Help to Buy scheme.

This comes amidst fears of a new housing boom. House prices in London rose by 17% last year.

Contrast that against a rise of just 4% in Scotland.

Our last recession was ­predicated upon bad loans and irresponsible mortgage lending. The real difficulty here is in the number of new houses being built across the UK.

In Scotland, we built some 14,000 new homes last year.

We actually need to be building some 30,000 new homes per year, to meet demand. Where supply cannot meet demand, prices rise.

This issue remains the biggest risk to our continued, long-term recovery. Home, should not be a place where you have to go, but where you want to go. Let's get building.


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