THERE has been no shortage of suggestions about what to do with Hampden since the Scottish Football Association announced they were considering not renewing the current lease when it expires after the Euro 2020 finals.

Stay for another 20 years. Move through to Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Follow the lead of major football nations like Germany, Italy and Spain and take international games and cup semi-finals and finals to grounds around the country. The issue has polarised opinion among players, managers, officials and supporters.

But nobody has put forward a proposal quite as radical as Paul Fletcher – and as Europe’s leading authority on football stadiums his views are informed and well worth listening to.

Fletcher is, likes many others, no lover of the gently sloping stands of Hampden. He feels the fans behind the goals are too far away from the action. He believes their match day experience suffers as a result.

“Hampden, if I was to be very cruel, is is an athletics track that converts into a football ground,” he said. “I think Scotland should stay at Hampden, but they should knock it down and built a new one.”

Such a dramatic course of action is unlikely to be embraced by the SFA. The venue was redeveloped at a cost of considerably more than the initial £59 million budget just 19 years ago. The price of playing there is why alternatives have been examined. Two decades of on-field failure haven’t exactly left the governing body flush.

However, Fletcher, a former chief executive of the Reebok Stadium in Bolton and the Ricoh Arena in Coventry as well as commercial director of Wembley Stadium, stresses that lack of funds is not an obstacle in such an ambitious venture.

Because what the “stadiologist” advocates constructing in its place is an, er, self-sustaining hamburger. So they you are then. Problem solved.

Allow him to explain. “It is possible now to build a new stadium that can pay for itself,” he said. “What we have got to stop doing is putting the pitch on ground level. If you can move the pitch up to level three, which isn’t difficult to do, it gives you two levels underneath.

“We call it a hamburger stadium. The bottom part of the bun is the retail, then you have got the car park under the pitch, the meat is either the football or rugby that is played in the middle and the top half of the bun is education. It is relatively straightforward to put a university in there”

Fletcher was speaking at an event at the Spartans Community Football Academy in Edinburgh to promote Saturday Bloody Saturday, the football book he has written with his friend, fellow Burnley fan and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, earlier this week.

His idea for Hampden sounds like something you would find in the pages of a Philip K Dick science fiction novel, but he has practical experience of such an undertaking.

“I have been advising a young man who has built a stadium in India exactly like this,” he said. “It is in a place called Ahmedabad. It is a 20,000 stadium that is finished and operating. The pitch is on level two and there are two levels underneath.

“He crammed in just about every commercial idea you could think of. There is an indoor virtual golf driving range, squash, badminton and tennis courts and snooker tables. They have everything. The only thing they don’t have is a football team. They plan to have one eventually, but they will only do that if the stadium makes a profit.

“We have learned that what we musn’t do is build a fabulous stadium and then on the Monday morning after the game sit around and say ‘ what do we do with for the next fortnight until we have another match?’”

The possibility of the SFA buying Hampden from Queen’s Park at a cost of just £2 million has been discussed and Fletcher believes that would be a huge step in the right direction if the stadium is to survive in the modern era.

“We need some tough decisions made,” he said. “One is to rebuild Hampden. It will only go backwards not forwards in my view.”

Paul Fletcher was speaking at The Spartans Community Football Academy to promote Saturday Bloody Saturday, which is published by Orion Books and is out now.