THE Battle of Britain clash between Hearts and Liverpool is set to bring a major financial boost to Edinburgh, as bars, restaurants and hotels prepare themselves for an invasion of the Reds later this month.
Thousands of fans will make the trip north for the Thursday night fixture on August 23, with many expected to stay until the weekend.
It is expected the glamour tie could be worth up to £1 million to businesses across the city, while the club could collect more than £1m from TV rights, prize money and additional revenue.
According to Uefa, Hearts stand to receive £78,500 in prize money from the play-off game.
With TV rights expected to be worth up to £350,000, as well as ticket revenue from huge gates at Tynecastle and Anfield, and associated sales of corporate hospitality and merchandise, the club could be looking at a payday of more than £1m.
The potential earnings will be doubled should the club make it past Liverpool, and while the odds are stacked against them fans will no doubt take some encouragement from their side’s head-to-head record.
The Tynecastle team have played Liverpool six times and have won all but one of them – although the last time the teams met was in 1929.
The results will still be seen as a good omen for the Jambos, and whatever the result on the park their club and the city will benefit greatly from the tie.
The game against the Premier League side comes after their two-leg draw against Tottenham Hotspur last August, which experts estimate was worth around £2m to the Capital.
Although Liverpool is only a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the Capital, it is expected that due to holiday season timing and the game being on a Thursday night many fans will take the opportunity to have a long weekend break.
The announcement of the draw yesterday was welcomed by the hotel trade, which despite the Festival influx is experiencing a 20 per cent slump in takings per room on last year.
Ticket numbers for supporters are still to be divided but it is expected that between 1500 and 2500 Liverpool fans will make the trip north, with thousands of Edinburgh fans cramming into venues screening the big game.
Colin Paton, chairman of the Edinburgh Hotels Association, said: “This has got to be a boost for hotels. Historically Edinburgh hotels have always filled in certain months, of which August is the busiest, but this has been a very soft year.
“Occupancy in the first seven months has been lower and rates per room have been lower. The Olympic effect has not been positive for Edinburgh this month, with rev par [takings per room] down 19 per cent on last year, so this might be the cavalry we need.”
Pubs and bars in west Edinburgh were also preparing themselves for one of the busiest weekends of the year.
Paul Waterson, spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association in Edinburgh, said: “Obviously it’s a great draw and I’ve no doubt it will help trade generally, specifically the pubs.
“With the trouble that’s going on in Scottish football this is exactly what we need, it’s a glamour game with big-name players.”
Tickets for last year’s Europa League qualifier between Hearts and Tottenham are understood to have sold out in less than four hours and when released the ticket rush for Liverpool is expected to be just as ferocious.
Ex-Hearts striker and lifelong Jambo Scott Crabbe said the draw was “fantastic” and confidently predicted a white-hot atmosphere at Tynecastle a week on Thursday.
“It will be an amazing atmosphere. For Spurs, there wasn’t a seat left in the house. Liverpool will be similar, if not better.
“I think it’ll be harder to get a ticket for this than it was for the cup final.”
Steven Kilgour, secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters, said that his phone had been ringing off the hook since the draw was made, with supporters already keen to sort out transport to Liverpool for the return leg.
“Games don’t come much bigger,” he said. “Liverpool are up there with Barcelona, Manchester United, Read Madrid as one of the biggest names in European football history.
“We’ll have a full house at Tynecastle and I think Hearts will take at least 5000 to Anfield. We had 4000 at White Hart Lane and Liverpool is much more accessible.
“It’s going to be very hard to get through but you never know – miracles do happen.”