Football: SFA takes control of troubled Hampden

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THE SCOTTISH Football Association is to take over the management of financially troubled Hampden Park as part of an emergency rescue package for the stadium.

The move was announced yesterday by an SFA spokesman at the end of a meeting of the Association's 27-strong council, which agreed the measure.

Later this week the Scottish education, culture and sport minister, Sam Galbraith, will reveal the full details of the package, to which the Scottish Executive will contribute pounds 2.2m. The rest of the pounds 4.4m deal is coming from the Millennium Commission, the Glasgow Development Agency, Sport Scotland and Glasgow City Council.

The SFA spokesman said: "The SFA has agreed this afternoon to take on the management and governance of the stadium on the terms notified to the co-funders. This will result in a change with the management of the stadium being run by the SFA.

"This change is one of the key factors in the solution and we are confident this decision will extricate a solution to the problems which have faced the stadium. We are confident that we have done a deal which is good for Scottish football."

The ambitious revamp of the 55,000-seat stadium ran into financial difficulties earlier this year with threats of legal action from the main contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, for non-payment.

The agreement for the SFA to take over the running of Hampden Park will ensure the stadium plays host to the 2002 European Cup final.

Rhona Brankin, the Scottish Executive Deputy Minister for Sport and Culture, welcomed the announcement. "We are pleased to hear the news. Hampden Park is a beautiful stadium and we are delighted the difficulties have been resolved," she said. "My officials have worked very hard to find a solution. With this announcement we can look forward to a bright future."

The Dundee United manager, Paul Sturrock, saw his side beat Dundee 1- 0 in Sunday night's Scottish Premier League fixture - but he was far from happy with his side's performance. Joaquim Ferraz's 89th-minute strike, after capitalising on a Steven Tweed error, earned a late win for United, who had looked fortunate to be claiming a point prior to the goal. Billy Dodds' departure to Rangers has left a void in attack which the United youngsters, Stephen McConalogue and Steven Thompson, failed to fill and, his goal apart, Ferraz also struggled.

Sturrock felt his players let themselves down throughout the team and refused to be abated by the fact that against the run of play United somehow emerged with three points. His view is that sooner or later United's good fortune, which has been with them in abundance this term, will vanish and leave them short in their attempts to secure a Uefa Cup place.

United's win restored them to third in the Premier League table, but yesterday Sturrock warned: "We're waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen. People will be surprised that I've vented my frustration in the dressing-room but a second-half performance like Sunday night's is unacceptable to me.

"We've got to get our consistency of performance back. Lady Luck can shine on you for a while, but sooner or later you've got to make your own luck. We have to pass the ball better than we did on Sunday if we're going to progress. There was a fear factor evident and our problem at the moment seems to be when we have the ball. The service from back to front was very poor and our strikers need to improve their linkage. Too many players didn't take part in the game as they should have done."

Sturrock's stinging criticism extended to the Portuguese forward Ferraz, despite him repeating his opening day achievement of defeating Dundee with a late goal. He added: "I've already had a few words with Joaquim. He'll have to change the way he's playing because we cannot change for him. He has to adapt to the pace of Scottish football."

Dundee's substitute forward Nicky Banger summed up the anguish of Jocky Scott's team: "I was pleased with the way everything went apart from the result. Overall we bettered them, especially in the second-half, but one mistake has lost us the game."