Football fans feeling starved of Highland derby action this season are to be served an unexpected treat next week as the teams meet in a fundraising match.
Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have agreed to play in a one-off clash, with all proceeds from the game going to cancer charity Maggie’s Highlands.
Tickets for Wednesday night’s Dingwall derby, which normally attracts thousands of supporters, have gone on sale for only £5.
The meeting between the Highland rivals disappeared from the fixture list following the relegation of Inverness to the Scottish Championship.
Ross County will be hosts to Caledonian Thistle, and manager Owen Coyle said: “We’ve not had a derby this season so it’ll be a great opportunity for everybody.
“The players and clubs will benefit, but all proceeds will go to Maggie’s, so everyone’s a winner.
“I hope everyone will come out to support. The entrance fee is a fiver, which is a brilliant.
“Outwith how feisty the derby can be, they know there’s a huge benefit to the charity. We’ve all been touched by things like that over the years. Hopefully there’s huge numbers for what should be a wonderful occasion.
“I played in the derby myself. It was 3-3 draw, but it was a wonderful occasion. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, everyone loves their local rivalry.
“It’s important for the community for the local teams to be doing well and it’s a chance for both clubs to showcase the young talent they’ve got coming through.
Inverness manager John Robertson added: “It’s been a massive miss. It’s a game that’s been played for many years in the Premier League.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for guys on both sides to get a really good workout, on a great pitch in front of a crowd, for a much-needed cause.”
The Inverness Maggie’s centre, based next to Raigmore Hospital, offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends.
Highland fundraising manager Andy Benjamin said: “This is an amazing gesture from Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
“They are giving up their time for free to support such an important charity.
“It is great the local derby is back on. It will benefit everyone, the players, the fans and also Maggie’s Highlands. Everyone is affected by cancer in some way. To raise funds from this game is brilliant.”