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14 Apr, 2020 18:57

German lower-league club sells record 125,000 tickets to match despite coronavirus curbs... but there's a catch

German lower-league club sells record 125,000 tickets to match despite coronavirus curbs... but there's a catch

With global sport currently at a standstill due to restrictions designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, one German side has found a novel way of keeping their finances ticking over by selling 125,000 tickets to a 'virtual game'.

Lower tier side Lokomotive Leipzig announced this week that they had set a new club record for ticket sales for what they describe as a 'virtual game against an invisible opponent'. 

The game, which they say will take place on May 8, comes amid a global lockdown of most major sports in the world as various governments battle to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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The club announced plans last month to sell the symbolic tickets to the fictional game at a price of €1 each ($1.10) and set a goal of exceeding the record total ticket sales of 120,000 which was set in 1987 in a Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final clash with French outfit Bordeaux. 

"When we started the campaign on March 19, no one could have imagined that we would crack the 120,000 mark so quickly," Lokomotive president Thomas Lowe said of the idea.

"In the name of the club, I wish to thank all the supporters who have made contributions from all across the world. It’s great to see how the blue and yellow family is sticking together in these difficult times."

German football has been suspended, along with most of Europe's major leagues, since mid-March as the scale and danger of the worsening spread of coronavirus became apparent. 

However, even some of the richest clubs on the continent have struggled with the temporary loss of income and several are understood to be considering unpaid temporary leaves of absence for non-playing staff to bridge any financial gaps caused by their leagues being suspended.

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The 'attendance' for the game will far outstrip their biggest crowd so far this season, which was 4,498 against Energie Cottbus. However, officials for the club have remained tight-lipped on exactly what it is that they are selling tickets for.

"There's going to be a live stream from the stadium, the floodlights will be switched on and our internet radio commentators will be working on the game," a club spokesperson said. "I can't tell you more at the moment.

"The money will be used to keep Lok running - we have 300 youth players, we need to pay the staff and look after the facilities."