Counting cost of football failure on economy

Hearts fans have now got Edinburgh derby matches to look forward to. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Hearts fans have now got Edinburgh derby matches to look forward to. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Businesses and fans have given a mixed reaction to the Capital’s new Championship football status – with some saying it could actually be a boost to the city.

Hibs’ shock defeat in the play-off on Sunday meant that for the first time in the 125-year history of the Scottish league, neither of Edinburgh’s football teams will play in the top flight.

And while Hibs supporters are still raw from Sunday’s 2-0 result against Hamilton Academical, traders in both halves of the city are still unsure about what impact the drop to the Championship could have on business.

Some fans admitted they were relishing the prospect of a new league – and the chance to see their team winning again.

But James Colvine, owner of the Iona Bar in Easter Road, said: “It will be good for the club, change is good. This has been going on for five seasons so I think we need a big change.

“We’ll be up against Rangers and Hearts, and going to all the smaller clubs to play, it’s more relaxed and enjoyable when you’re winning instead of losing.”

Eileen Bowser, who owns Middleton’s Bar in Easter Road, agreed. She said: “We’re going to have Rangers and Hearts here, we’ll still have the customers and we’ll get the away support as well.”

Not all were convinced, however. Deborah Anderson, owner of Mum’s Takeaway in Albion Road, said: “There is going to be a big impact. It doesn’t just affect Hibs, it affects everybody. We rely on the football, on the big games – as does Gorgie as well.”

In Gorgie, where the dust has settled from Hearts’ relegation in April, traders said that the game could be given a new lease of life, with the added competition of Rangers.

Jay Singh, who owns the Chili Club Indian takeaway in Gorgie Road, said: “I think there will be more people and more business from people supporting different clubs.”

Graham Birse, director of the Edinburgh Institute at Edinburgh Napier University and former managing director of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, echoed the view that the change of opposition and the number of big teams in the Championship could make it an enticing prospect.

“It’s probably in financial terms not as much of a disaster as you might think,” he said. “There’s an inevitability about the Premier League at the moment. We have this unique chemistry next season, with Hibs, Hearts and Rangers alongside the existing teams. These teams have big travelling supports so it raises the prospect of a spicy Edinburgh derby and visiting Rangers fans. It’s going to be exciting and competitive.”

Supporters look to hearts campaign for inspiration

HIBS fans could follow the example of their city rivals and set up a grassroots campaign like the one led by Foundation of Hearts to save the club.

The move – which could see fans’ reps on the board – is one of the ideas to emerge from a meeting of supporters groups last night.

Mike Reilly, chairman of Hibs Supporters’ Association, said there was a feeling that club chairman Rod Petrie, manager Terry Butcher and assistant Maurice Malpas should all go.

“There’s something rotten in Hibs, something not just right and we need to get rid of it,” he said.