Leader: ‘May 19 set to be big spending day’

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IF you haven’t made your plans yet for Saturday, May 19, then you had better start soon.

It is shaping up to be one of the biggest days of sport – and drinking – that the Capital has seen for many years.

Hearts and Hibs have already made history of course by booking their places in the Scottish Cup final, while the whole city will be hoping that Edinburgh Rugby can follow suit tonight by sealing their place in the Heineken European Cup final which kicks off straight after.

For all those who love their sport, that would really be a day to savour, topped off by the Champions League final on television later in the evening. Everyone else will have to make alternative plans.

And it won’t just be the sports fans who are rubbing their hands together with glee.

With many pubs expected to be granted licences to serve fans for 16 hours from 9am on Saturday, this will be a major pay day for an industry which is currently going through one of its toughest times in living memory.

Staging the Scottish Cup final at Hampden, instead of Murrayfield, will mean hundreds of thousands of pounds being sucked out of Edinburgh and into Glasgow, as fans spend their money on match tickets, drinks, food and souvenirs in the west.

At least the prospect of supporters eating and drinking in city pubs before they set off, and returning to celebrate or drown their sorrows afterwards, means businesses in the Capital will also see some benefit. The televising of the Champions League final will be a particular boon for many bars and restaurants, as even fans of the losing team will have an incentive to stay out and make an evening of it.

There will always be concerns when so much alcohol is being consumed in the city, but the track record of both sets of football fans means there is every reason to expect the day to pass off just as peacefully as most Hogmanay celebrations.

The great hope now is that the city’s rugby fans can grab a ticket for the party on the back of another famous Edinburgh win in Dublin tonight. C’mon the Gunners.