Berlin: It may be a while before real fans can return to Bundesliga stadiums, but Borussia Moenchengladbach supporters are planning to fill the stands with the next best thing: 50,000 cardboard cut-outs of themselves.
The German league is suspended until the end of April due to the coronavirus crisis, and games are expected to be played behind closed doors if and when the season resumes.
Yet at fourth-placed Gladbach, fans now have the option to order a "life-size cardboard cut-out" of themselves -- complete with photos of their faces -- to occupy their usual spot on the terraces.
"This way, we will be the first club to bring a bit of life back to our stadium, even if fans actually have to watch from home," wrote supporter organisation Fanprojekt Moenchengladbach (FPMG) in an online statement on Wednesday.
For 19 euros (USD 21), Gladbach fans can buy the cardboard cut-out, which FPMG said would actually be made of "weather-proof plastic".
The proceeds would help to keep FPMG's seven employees in a job, with some of the money also donated to good causes close to the club, organisers said.
The figures themselves, meanwhile, are to be produced by two small firms in Moenchengladbach which have been forced to close during the crisis.
"We won't be making any profits, and when the 'war' is won, everyone can take home their doppelganger as a reminder of these curious times," said FPMG.
The Bundesliga is currently on hold until April 30, with clubs set to meet later this week to discuss further plans.
The league has said it hopes to play out the season in order to ensure TV revenues crucial to the financial stability of some of its clubs.
Gladbach hosted the last fixture to date on March 11, when they beat local rivals Cologne in the first Bundesliga game ever to be held behind closed doors.