EASTER Road will host its first ever Champions League game in October after Hibernian revealed that their women’s side will play at the ground following today’s last-32 draw in Nyon.
Also for the first time, Scotland will have two teams in the competition. Glasgow City are ninth of the 16 top seeds, while Hibs, who have never played in the knock-out stage before, are unseeded.
The Edinburgh club made history in the 1955-56 season by becoming the first in Britain to play in what was then the European Cup. They staged three ties at Easter Road, the last being a semi-final defeat against French champions Stade de Reims which denied them the opportunity of meeting Real Madrid in the final.
That last top-tier game against Reims, in April, 1956, attracted a crowd of just under 50,000, the second-highest for a European game at the ground. Only a fraction of that number are expected to watch Hibs Ladies, but the club’s chief executive, Leeann Dempster, feels that the players – who normally play at Albyn Park in Broxburn – deserve the opportunity.
“It’s a very exciting time for Hibernian Ladies and Champions League football will be great for the team,” Dempster said. “We are pleased they will be playing at Easter Road.”
Hibs will be keen to avoid holders Lyon, who are the top seeds, and Paris Saint-Germain, who are ranked fourth, but cannot be paired against either Chelsea and Manchester City, as both are also unseeded. Unlike the men’s Champions League, the women’s tournament is weighted towards clubs’ previous records and national co-efficients.
Glasgow City, whose recent achievements have created a second place for Hibs, cannot play the top teams from France and Germany, but could be drawn against Chelsea or Manchester City. “I’ve been saying to the players we’ll probably get Man City – but I’d prefer we didn’t,” head coach Scott Booth said.
The last-32 ties are on 5/6 and 12/13 October.