THREE Premier League clubs are interested in having cardboard cut-outs in empty stands when top-flight football returns.
Three Premier League teams are in talks to use cardboard cut-outs of fans in the stands when football returns
If those discussions prove successful, then £20 recyclable and water-proof cut-outs could be placed in stadiums when the Premier League resumes in June.
Some of the money raised will be donated to the NHS in the fight against coronavirus.
Top US sporting bodies like the NBA, Serie A and MLS have also shown an interest as international sport looks set to return behind closed doors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is the brainchild of ingenious German super-fan Ingo Muller, who has organized almost 14,000 cut-outs of fans and season-ticket holders for his beloved Borussia Monchengladbach.
It will go live to the world when the Bundesliga side face Bayern Leverkusen at the Borussia-Park on Saturday afternoon.
Fans download their head-and-shoulders photo to a special app and then it is printed on life-size cardboard cut-outs and placed in the stadium.
TV and commercial filmmaker Muller, 51, told SunSport: “It was my wife’s idea.
“We should have played at Eintracht Frankfurt two months ago. The match was suspended.
“We were in quarantine in Berlin. I was sitting in the kitchen, complaining, whining about the fact I couldn’t watch football on a Saturday afternoon.
“My wife said: ‘Ingo, get a picture taken of yourself, put it in the stadium, and somehow if there are matches without public you are there, supporting the team.’
“I thought about the concept for an hour or two. We talked with club officials and the following week they generously said: ‘The lawn is ours, the stadium is yours.’
“We expected 500-2,000 cardboards at the beginning. Now we are looking at 20,000 orders at €19 (£17) over the next few weeks.
“As soon as the fans can go back to the stadium, we will throw a huge party and then they can pick up their own cardboard and keep it as a memory.
“On one hand, I’m proud the idea is working. It’s a symbol of protest that we are here but we cannot be here. We’re against matches without the public.
“Jock Stein used to say, 'Football is nothing without fans.' And this is what we feel, too. I’m sad I cannot be there, screaming my guts out, supporting my team.”
One progressive non-league club is discussing the possibility of using it as a crowd-funding tool during a financially tough post-lockdown future.
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