Hearts-Hibs ‘Festival Cup’ clash could be revived

Robbie Neilson with the Festival Cup in 2004
Robbie Neilson with the Festival Cup in 2004
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The Festival Cup could make a return to the Edinburgh football calendar as Hearts owner Ann Budge bids to keep the Capital derby alive.

Hibs’ failure to win promotion this term, while the Jambos stormed to the Championship title, has left the rivals facing the prospect of a season without a city clash for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign. Budge is acutely aware of the financial boost the Edinburgh derby provides both clubs, while she believes supporters would miss the fixture.

She is interested in reviving the Festival Cup, which could see a ‘friendly’ clash with Hibs played during pre-season. Although there is currently no timeframe for the plan, it is understood Budge is keen to ensure the derby does not fall by the wayside while the clubs are in separate divisions.

The original Festival Cup was initially intended to take the form of a triangular tournament played during the Edinburgh Festival, with a third side from abroad invited to join Hearts and Hibs.

However, it failed to attract any participants from Europe and ultimately took the form of a sole Edinburgh derby played during pre-season.

The Festival Cup was only held twice, with Hearts emerging victorious on both occasions. Andy Webster netted the only goal at Easter Road in 2003 as the Jambos claimed the inaugural trophy, before they retained it the following year thanks to a 3-1 win at Tynecastle.