Why Celtic should have no problem playing at Murrayfield

By David Walton

October 4, 2018

Celtic’s Betfred Cup semi-final issues have finally been resolved as the Hoops take to Murrayfield to face Hearts.

Yet, the Hoops aren’t happy one bit about that fact. Celtic believe that a ballot should’ve taken place instead of just shifting them across the M8. I may be missing something here, but I’m certain that I haven’t – so what’s all the fuss about?

Firstly, we’ve long since moaned about the state of the Hampden Park turf. In recent years, it’s been absolutely dreadful whenever Celtic have played on it. The likes of Brendan Rodgers and Scott Brown have bemoaned how poor it is. Surely the fact we aren’t playing on it isn’t a bad thing.

The turf at Hampden Park hasn’t been great for a long time (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Secondly, Murrayfield is a much bigger stadium than Hampden. It holds approximately 15,000 more than Hampden does. Assuming Celtic and Hearts both get a 50-50 split of the tickets, that means that 7,500 more Hoops fans can come and watch their side.

If this is a fan-oriented stand Celtic have taken, surely it’s more ideal to fit thousands more fans into the stadium.

A Glasgow-based club with national support

Granted, the idea is that Cetic are a Glasgow-based club, and therefore our supporters mainly revolve around Glasgow. There’s two counters to this, however.

Firstly, the trip to Edinburgh and particularly Murrayfield is only an hour or so, give or take 10-15 minutes. It’s not a journey that’s going to tire out the supporters. Celtic are making it out to be a bigger inconvenience than it is to hop on a train to Edinburgh’s city-centre.

Celtic also have a huge amount of fans in Edinburgh. It would be good for them to be able to see their side closer to home. Let’s not pretend we only have supporters filling out Glasgow and its suburbs. We have fans all over the country, and Edinburgh is just another hot-bed for them. Giving them the chance to have Celtic on their door-step in a cup semi is long overdue.

Murrayfield Stadium holds an extra 15,000 more than Hampden (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The final aspect of why Celtic’s stand is so confusing is that we’ve played at Murrayfield before. It’s not a totally new experience for Celtic supporters to head there. Brendan Rodgers claimed yesterday that the venue was more of a home ground for Hearts because they played there last season.

If Brendan remembers correctly, Hearts barely won at Murrayfield. In fact, they only won one of their three games that they played there. Meanwhile, we played both KR Reykjavic and Legia Warsaw in Scotland’s biggest stadium.

This isn’t a step into the unknown, and certainly isn’t something we should be overly-bothered about. Celtic have to be focused on domestic dominance after the Champions League exit. They can’t allow side issues to get in the way of that.

The best thing we can do now is get on with it, batter Hearts, and get to the cup final.