Festival cup for capital

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EUROPEAN football giants such as Bayern Munich, Fiorentina and Dynamo Kiev could be coming to the Capital this summer to face Hibs and Hearts in a curtain-raiser to the Edinburgh International Festival, the Evening News can reveal today.

The News has learned that tentative plans are being made to invite a team from one of the Capital’s twin cities to take part in the inaugural "Festival Cup", a triangular tournament which, it is hoped, will become an annual event.

Council officials have already been instructed to make contact with their counterparts in Edinburgh’s 13 twin cities, which stretch from the United States to China, to put the idea to them.

And with Munich, Florence and Kiev among those enjoying close links with the Capital, that could see Bayern, Fiorentina or Dynamo invited to play here over the first weekend in August.

That would coincide with the opening of this year’s Festival and provide a glamour start to the new Premierleague season which gets underway the following Saturday, August 9.

Not only would Hibs and Hearts fans get to see one of Europe’s top sides in action at both Easter Road and Tynecastle, but they, and Festival goers, would be treated to an extra Edinburgh derby.

It is understood the idea has been put to both Hibs managing director Rod Petrie and Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson and, although some hurdles need to be negotiated, it is believed they both agreed it was worth pursuing.

The plan is the brainchild of the council’s recreation leader Steve Cardownie, a keen football fan who believes such a tournament would be a massive hit both with local fans and visitors to Edinburgh.

The Lord Provost, Eric Milligan, is also understood to be supportive of the innovative suggestion which would, undoubtedly, add another dimension to the Festival.

However, the Capital clubs would need to liaise closely with the Premierleague as the Edinburgh derby has been one of the first, if not the first, fixture in recent seasons.

They would be keen that if the proposal comes to fruition, that the first competitive derby of the season didn’t follow on too closely to the Festival Cup.

If an inaugural tournament proved successful, both on the playing side and as an attraction to fans and visitors, it could become an annual affair with teams from the Capital’s twin cities invited on a rotational basis, although it would have to be recognised that some wouldn’t prove to be as big an attraction as, say, Bayern Munich, Fiorentina or Dynamo Kiev.