Caley Thistle have thanked Hearts fans for their generosity after selling 4,700 tickets for their ‘virtual ticket’ initiative.
The Inverness side announced they would sell virtual tickets for their match against the Jambos on February 26 and have been stunned by the response.
The game is due to be screened live on BBC Scotland so Caley Thistle will be unable to make any additional money from the game through their own club TV channel at a time when fans are not allowed to attend matches.
The initiative came about after Stevie Kilgour, the general secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters, approached Caley Jags chief executive Scot Gardiner to find out how Hearts fans could assist Caley Thistle during this “extremely onerous financial period for Scottish football”.
The approach was prompted by the memory of a gesture made by Caley Thistle towards Hearts in August 2013 during the Gorgie side’s financial problems when the Inverness side made the offer to pay Hearts 1874 Fighting Fund a donation for fans who travelled to a league match between the clubs. More than 1,100 Jambos made the journey up the A9 to watch the game.
ICTFC announce first ever "virtual tickets" v @JamTarts
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) February 6, 2021
Caley Thistle are selling ‘print at home’ virtual tickets for £5 and souvenir match tickets signed by Caley Thistle boss and Hearts legend John Robertson for £10.
A club statement on behalf of Caley Thistle chairman Ross Morrison and the club’s board read: “We thank as ever, the supporters of ICTFC who have once again stepped up for their club and spent their hard earned money to back us when the current pressures of the outside world are so great.
“We also thank the fans of the other Scottish clubs, both in the Championship and the Premiership who have also made such generous contributions to a game where their own team isn’t even involved and also fans of the clubs in England who have done likewise. Such kindness is a reminder of the strength of football fans and indeed our game of football.
“All of that said, we cannot emphasise how simply blown away we have been by the almost instantaneous warmth and generosity of the supporters of Heart of Midlothian FC.
Incredible, Jambos! 👏 https://t.co/9TJ7eK7y66
— Heart of Midlothian FC (@JamTarts) February 7, 2021
“As I write, we have now sold over 4,700 virtual “tickets” for our game on Friday, February 26. The vast majority of which have been purchased by Jambos.
“To put this in some context for those who don’t know the Caledonian Stadium, that is the equivalent of selling out the 2,200 capacity South Stand which is the traditional away end that Hearts fans would have been occupying and also selling out the 2,200 North Stand, normally occupied by ICT supporters.
“This means that as things stand, Hearts fans have become the biggest away support (virtual or real) ever at the Caledonian Stadium.
“Our capacity is 7,822 and we have now managed to sell 60% of that in just over a day.
“When we had sold 1,000 tickets in less than 90 minutes yesterday, Robbo joked with me and I really mean joked, that our record attendance which is 7,753 against Rangers would be under threat.
“Little did we know that everyone, but especially the boys in maroon, would keep it going all day and overnight.
“Some Hearts supporters clubs have even pledged the price of the bus that would have brought them to Inverness later this month. Incredible generosity.”