Call for city to host potential Hearts-Hibs cup clash

Paul McLellan and Steve Cardownie are dreaming of an all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final at Murrayfield

Paul McLellan and Steve Cardownie are dreaming of an all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final at Murrayfield

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IF one side makes it, the other will be left either marooned or green with envy.

But just maybe both Hearts and Hibs will reach the promised land and set up an all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final. That would spark football fever in the city, but with one downside – the final takes place in Glasgow.

So now a bid is under way to shift the May showpiece from its traditional Hampden Park home to Murrayfield, if both sides successfully negotiate their semi-finals this weekend.

Fans say that would save thousands of families huge travel costs and create a carnival atmosphere in the Capital.

The move has won backing from Hearts-mad deputy leader of the city council Steve Cardownie and Paul McLellan, the Hibs- loving leader of East Lothian Council.

Councillor Cardownie, a Hearts season ticket holder, said bringing the final to Edinburgh would be a historic day for the city.

He said: “We believe it doesn’t make sense to have tens of thousands of fans going down the M8 and along with that there’s the expense for families.

“The atmosphere at Murrayfield would be tremendous and there would be more tickets for the fans.

“First there are two tough semi-finals, no doubt about it, and we’re not presupposing the result.

“But in the event that it’s a Hearts-Hibs final we want to test public opinion among the fans.”

Hibs face Aberdeen tomorrow at Hampden before Hearts travel west 24 hours later to take on Celtic.

Should both emerge victorious, it will set up the first all-Edinburgh final in 116 years.

And as the Evening News told yesterday, that 1896 match – which Hearts won 3-1 – took place in the Capital, with Logie Green in Powderhall the venue. We also revealed how fans of both sides have joined forces to campaign for a permanent memorial to the historic tie.

The Murrayfield bid comes after similar calls in 2006, when managers from both teams joined fans in expressing dismay at the SFA’s decision to force 50,000 fans to travel to Glasgow for the Hearts v Hibs Scottish Cup semi-final.

Hearts won that tie 4-0 and went on to lift the trophy, while Hibs haven’t tasted cup glory since 1902.

For families the trip would represent a significant expense, while fans say Murrayfield – with a capacity of 67,000 to Hampden’s 52,000 – would allow more supporters to witness the clash.

The SFA said it had no plans to shift the venue for the May 19 showdown, but was today urged to reconsider.

Cllr McLellan, a long-standing Hibs season ticket holder, said hosting the final at Murrayfield could have great benefits for the city.

Cllr McLellan, a coach for the Scottish Youth Football Association national squad, said: “It’s not very often you get the potential of a Hibs-Hearts final and it’s a shame half of Edinburgh would have to go through to Glasgow.

“If Murrayfield hosted the final the economic benefits to the city could be huge.

“It’s not cheap for families to get to Glasgow and it would be a great atmosphere in the city.

“There could be many other events going on and it would provide a carnival atmosphere.”

Hearts have played at Murrayfield in recent times, taking on Barcelona in a friendly in front of 57,000 fans in 2007 and playing several European matches at the rugby ground in 2004 and 2006.

Cllr Cardownie said Hibs fans might be concerned about that, but added: “No-one thinks about asking the fans so we want to ask them what they want.

“After all we’ll be the ones in the crowd on match day.”