Fifth-Tier English Soccer Team Marine AFC Capitalizes on Historic Match

    • Marine restricted fans from coming to the 3,185-person stadium in 2020, missing out on about $135,000 in matchday revenue.
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Teams all over the world have suffered massive revenue losses during the pandemic, but one English football club is taking a unique route to filling the gaps.

Without any fans in attendance, small-market Marine AFC lost 5-0 Sunday to Premier League opponent Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. The loss was not a surprise, as the teams’ rankings differ by 161 spots, making the game the biggest mismatch in the tournament’s history

But because of the Spurs’ global popularity, several new sponsors — including former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher — stepped up, and the game even had enough demand to sell “virtual tickets.”

The team surpassed 30,000 virtual tickets sold, worth over $400,000, after a push from famous football figures on social media.

Marine restricted fans from coming to their 3,185-person stadium in 2020, and are said to have missed out on about $135,000 in matchday revenue against Tottenham. The FA Cup’s prize money has also been reduced this year, another blow to the club’s financial plan — so much so that Marine were at risk of dissolving the team

“The virtual tickets basically saved the club,” said Marine striker Niall Cummins. “We woke up on Sunday and we sold 12,500 tickets and suddenly social media took off.”