‘Festival-level crowds’ tipped to pack city bars for World Cup final

Crowds of football supporters watch the England v Croatia World Cup semi-final at the Three Sister bar in the Cowgate, Edinburgh. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford
Crowds of football supporters watch the England v Croatia World Cup semi-final at the Three Sister bar in the Cowgate, Edinburgh. 'Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Bar owners are bracing for an sudden influx of Les Bleus, with France a warm favourite to win their first World Cup title in 20 years.

The world’s biggest tournament will be brought to a close as fans from all over the world tune into tomorrow’s final.

Either France or Croatia will be crowned champions when they meet in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

And far from an England-free final convincing punters to stay away from the pub, bar bosses claim France have attracted big support from the Edinburgh crowd during the tournament and will prove a draw tomorrow.

Football fans have been warned bars will have to operate a “one in, one out” policy as supporters are expected to pack out pubs hours before kick-off.

Eric Drought, manager of the Three Sisters on the Cowgate, revealed the bar was “stocking up” on booze, with a large number of French fans in particular expected to show their support for Didier Deschamps’s side.

Mr Drought said: “We have had a strong French contingent during the tournament and we are expecting that again on Sunday.

“We’ve brought extra cider and extra wine. I think we have an additional 350 bottles of red and 300 of white, so we’re well stocked.

“It has been a really good atmosphere here all tournament. We have been absolutely packed for every game and everyone seems to have enjoyed it in the right way.”

On Wednesday, pubs across the city were filled to the brim as supporters turned out in force to see England miss out on a first World Cup final since 1966 following an extra-time winner by Croatia. France triumphed over Belgium in the other semi-final.

Fans are set to push Capital pubs to “festival-level capacity” over the weekend, starting today when England face Belgium in the third place play-off.

Mr Drought said: “It would have been nice to see England get to the final.

“We have had a lot of England fans in throughout the World Cup, but they will be out again regardless.

“They still have something to play for, so I imagine it will be packed again on Saturday.”

Fans watching the game on outdoor screens can expect humid, but overcast weather, with a low chance of rain both today and tomorrow.

At the Pear Tree on West Nicolson Street, bar manager Brian Dobie said he expected the pub to be full hours before each game.

He encouraged patrons to get there early to avoid the queues.

Mr Dobie said: “I don’t think England going out will have too much of an effect on the numbers we’ll have coming through the door.

“It will still be at capacity on Saturday and Sunday and it will be one in, one out when we get up to that level.

“On Wednesday, we were full up at around 3.30pm, so a few hours before the game even kicked off.”

Mr Dobie added: “The French have been well backed during the tournament, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them getting a lot of support again.”