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Caley Thistle set record attendance as virtual ticket sales for Hearts fixture hit 7,820

Paul Cherry says Caley Thistle's move to the Caledonian Stadium was like a mirror experience for him, having been at St Johnstone when they relocated to McDiarmid Park.
Paul Cherry says Caley Thistle's move to the Caledonian Stadium was like a mirror experience for him, having been at St Johnstone when they relocated to McDiarmid Park.

Caley Thistle are set for a record attendance at this month’s Scottish Championship fixture against Hearts after reaching 7,820 ‘virtual ticket’ sales.

The Inverness side are selling virtual tickets for the match against the Jambos on February 26 and have been left stunned by the demand.

The club have sold more virtual tickets for the match than they did for their record attendance  of 7,753 at Caledonian Stadium against Rangers in 2008.

The Hearts 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 £5 donation for every Hearts fan who travelled to a league match between the clubs. More than 1,100 Jambos made the journey up the A9 to watch the game.

John Robertson

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 read: “We can now confirm that the record attendance set for a match at the Caledonian Stadium in 2008 when the club faced Rangers has now been overtaken, and is still rising and as we write this, we have now sold 7,820 virtual tickets for ICTFC v Heart of Midlothian FC, beating the previous record of 7,753.

“Everyone at ICTFC is both astonished and full of gratitude to the fans of all clubs who have bought tickets so far. Virtual tickets for our Championship match v Hearts only went on sale on Saturday morning and with very little fanfare, as were preparing for our scheduled and subsequently postponed game v Dundee. We had no target. We had no expectation.

“That however, did not deter our own loyal Caley Jags fans, nor the football public in general from rallying to support our initiative over the weekend. Incredibly, fans from across four continents have bought tickets since Saturday.

“But one group of fans in particular, the supporters of Heart of Midlothian FC, have made the most incredible financial effort and subsequently, they have not only made a huge difference to us in this stressful and onerous season, they have shown a collective level of goodwill seldom seen in football.

“Unless we build a new stand in the future, of which there are understandably no plans to do, they will forever hold the record (and it is still rising!) attendance at Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club and it has been achieved in the most philanthropic of circumstances.

“It is a unique record, achieved in unique circumstances and given the circumstances, entirely appropriate. And it is still rising.

“Thank you everyone, whoever you support, the generosity and warmth you have each shown towards a fellow football club is hugely appreciated.”

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