Soccer

Steve Clarke keen for Scotland to have ‘top level’ facility for training

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke wants better training facilities (Adam Davy/PA)
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke wants better training facilities (Adam Davy/PA) Scotland head coach Steve Clarke wants better training facilities (Adam Davy/PA)

Steve Clarke wants a top-end Scotland training complex as he prepares for Euro 2024 in Germany.

The men’s national team moved from their base in Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, to Glasgow earlier in the year, with coach John Carver criticising the pitches at the Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh Campus.

Clarke spoke about the move to Lesser Hampden and a city centre hotel as part of the re-setting of Scotland following the defeat by Ukraine in the World Cup play-off in June 2022 and, although he is focused on a second successive Euros, he is looking to the longer-term, albeit he may not be the beneficiary.

Scotland’s Scott McTominay (second left) during a training session at Lesser Hampden (Steve Welsh/PA)
Scotland’s Scott McTominay (second left) during a training session at Lesser Hampden (Steve Welsh/PA) Scotland’s Scott McTominay (second left) during a training session at Lesser Hampden (Steve Welsh/PA)

Scotland were drawn against host country Germany, Switzerland and Hungary in Group A  for next summer’s Euros, with the Scots set to face the Netherlands in the first of a friendly double-header in March with an as-yet unnamed opponent coming to Hampden Park days later.

Clarke said: “Oriam was the venue that I was asked to use. It was fine.

“Initially it was perfect, it served its purpose. We had some really good camps at the Oriam, some great results, some great moments.

“We made the best of those facilities and we made them work.

“But after a period of time you think, ‘OK, this is a little bit tired, we are a bit tired of this place and we need to change’.

“To be fair to the (SFA) board, as soon as I began to ask for change, they were on it. They understood what I was trying to say to them.

“Just to freshen it up, to try to improve the facilities a little bit and move close to the top level of facility.

“Unfortunately we don’t have our own base in Scotland so we have to find something and at the moment the Blythswood hotel and Lesser Hampden is a fantastic option but I won’t stop looking and I won’t stop pushing for something else because I want to keep moving and moving.

“I say it to the board all the time, never stop trying to improve and never stop trying to look for something eventually, hopefully,  can become a Scottish FA facility.

“It would be nice but being realistic, two tournament qualifications in 25 years is not going to help us (pay for it), you would need to look at another two or three, or three out of the next four, or three out of the next five, a constant extra revenue coming into the association and maybe then they can think about it.

“If you are asking me if I would I rather have a training ground than a refurbished Hampden – Hampden will get refurbished for the 2028 Euros.

“If that refurbish is adequate then I would be saying look to put your money into a training facility that belongs to the Scottish FA and then you can look to move the game forward, you can use it as a facility for the men’s A, the women’s A and then hopefully all the under-age groups moving down the way and that is something we should look at.”

“I can start the process,” continued Clarke. “I never think too much about myself. Maybe you see that sometimes.

“But if I’m in the fortunate position to be head coach with a really talented group of players – which I am – then this is the time to start trying to build something for the future.

“Hopefully it could be for just one head coach down the line – or maybe two or three head coaches down the line before we actually get there.

“But, either way, that will mean we’ve been consistently successful and then hopefully we can end up with a nice product.”