Chorley has followed in the footsteps of fellow non-league football club Marine in launching a virtual ticket scheme for its glamour FA Cup draw against Premier League opposition.

On Monday, the draw for the fourth round pitted the National League North outfit against Wolverhampton Wanderers, in what will be a repeat of a famous FA Cup fixture from back in 1986. At that time, Chorley knocked out Wolves, then a Division Three club, with a 3-0 win in the second of two first round replays.

That game, now remembered as one of the darkest days in Wolves’ history, was held at Burnden Park, the old stadium of Bolton Wanderers, but the 2021 edition will be staged at Chorley’s 4,300-capacity Victory Park on the weekend of January 23-24.

With no fans being allowed to attend the game due to COVID-19 restrictions, Chorley has launched the virtual tickets scheme as part of ongoing efforts to plug what it claims is a near £500,000 (€562,000/$684,000) hole in revenue left by 2020’s struggles amid the pandemic.

Fans have been offered three options to support both the club and its minority owners, the Chorley FC Supporters Trust (CFCST) and the Community Foundation (CFCCF). These are a straight £10 donation to Chorley FC, or £15 and £20 donations. The latter two options will see £10 go to Chorley FC with the remaining money split between CFCST and CFCCF.

Terry Robinson, CEO of Chorley FC, said: “It’s been well documented the struggles football clubs up and down the country have faced since March, and our situation is no different. No spectators and severely reduced revenue streams, while trying to put together a team that can compete.

“The FA Cup has been a saviour for us, and now we’re looking at ways the Cup run can help us for the rest of the season and into the following seasons, too. Virtual tickets is one way of giving football fans the option of being part of our FA Cup run, while also helping us bridge what is a huge gap in revenue.”

Marine FC sold more than 30,000 virtual tickets for its 5-0 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in its third round match on Sunday. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the eighth-tier Northern Premier League Division One North West club was unable to host supporters at the 3,185-capacity Marine Travel Arena.

League Two club Cheltenham Town has also launched its own virtual tickets scheme after drawing Premier League giants Manchester City in the fourth round. Cheltenham said it will seek to ‘sell-out’ the 7,200-capacity Jonny-Rocks Stadium for the game.

For £10, fans will receive a digital programme, official teamsheet and souvenir ticket on the day of the game.

Image: Chorley FC