A colleague very much of the old school once remarked to me that three things are certain in life; death, taxes, and the debate about summer football. As I write, I’m steeling myself for the hike through the freezing tundra to Bodo/Glimt’s Aspmyra Stadium, so find myself receptive to reopening that discussion.

There is another Scottish football debate though that is periodically certain to resurface time and time again, and that is what to do about Hampden, our national stadium. Or more specifically, what the Scottish Football Association would like to do, but probably won’t.

“There is no doubt that Hampden needs to be improved. We are not going to hide from that, I am not going to hide from that.”

The words of Ian Maxwell, chief executive of the SFA. But this quote wasn’t taken from the round of press duties Maxwell conducted a couple of weeks back to trumpet a UK-wide joint bid to host the European Championships in 2028. These words are from 2018, after the SFA had finally purchased Hampden from Queen’s Park for the princely sum of £5m.

I stand ready to be corrected, but from attending numerous matches at the national stadium in the intervening period, the only noticeable upgrade has been the installation of two enormous tellies on the roof behind each goal.

While these look impressive, as far as addressing the problems Hampden has as a venue go, they are very much heavy on flash but light on substance. And it has to be said, sadly, the same goes for Maxwell’s rhetoric on how the SFA plan to make the ground a national stadium worthy of the name.

In fairness to Maxwell, his words on a proposed Hampden refurb could have come from any CEO of the SFA for the best part of the last 20 years.

Stewart Regan, the man who used to occupy his office, discussed the possibility of a ‘full or partial redevelopment’ of Hampden as one of numerous options being considered by the SFA before their old lease expired in 2020. That was in 2014. And other than a lick of paint prior to hosting Euro 2020 games and the new TVs, very little has changed in the eight years that have passed since.

When a move away from Hampden to Murrayfield was being considered a few years back, I was very much in favour of retaining Hampden as the national football stadium. But the reasons for doing so were almost entirely sentimental, with the old place being of historical importance not only to Scottish football, but in global terms.

If you were to look at Hampden not through misty eyes but in the cold light of day though, then it is clear that without redevelopment to improve the match-going experience, the stadium is not fit for purpose in the 21st century.

It should be remembered too that at the time of the SFA taking ownership of Hampden, Maxwell spoke at length about the options being considered for redevelopment now that they had the keys to the castle.

There was talk about copying the redevelopment of the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart, which saw their own bowl stadium redesigned, their running track removed, the stands behind the goals demolished and then rebuilt closer to the pitch.

“We are aware of the Stuttgart model,” said Maxwell at the time. “They have brought the ends in and that is something that we are absolutely committed to investigating as part of the wider development of the stadium.”

On the face of it, that would seem the ideal solution for Hampden, where the main complaint is that the sight lines are awful for a large proportion of spectators inside the ground. The distance of the stands from the pitch also make for a hollow atmosphere inside the stadium unless it is brim-full to capacity.

The reality is though that while such a vision for Hampden is admirably lofty, so too would be the price-tag.

When the Stuttgart-based model was first mooted, I spoke to Eberhard Becker, the architect behind the Mercedes-Benz Arena project, to get a gauge on how much it might cost to carry out similar works at Hampden. His estimate, in September 2018, was that it would set the SFA back at least £90m. That figure will be considerably higher now.

Back then, Maxwell tentatively mentioned that Glasgow City Council may be approached to help fund such improvements, and now he is seeking meetings with the Scottish Government to see what help they can offer on the back of the bid to host the Euros in six years’ time.

Maxwell’s recent comments about Hampden ‘getting a bit of a bad rep’ and citing how good it is when it is full for the biggest games were concerning, and hint at a lack of recognition of just how far Hampden lags behind the standard of national stadia even across the rest of the UK.

I am fortunate enough that I am in the relatively gilded surroundings of the press facilities on most occasions I attend the stadium now, and I can assure the SFA’s CEO that there is a marked difference in the experience of attending in the posh seats and the experience of attending as a punter in the rest of the ground.

It has to be hoped that Maxwell can sell the Scottish Government a vision of Hampden as it should be; as a national stadium that we an all be proud of once more. And that words, finally this time, will lead to some action.