Collingwood is exploring the possibility of running select club members’ faces on cardboard cutouts to counter the empty stadiums for AFL games this year.
The concept has already been used in South Korean baseball, which was one of the first sports to return to play from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Magpies chief executive Mark Anderson said the idea of virtual fans was all part of the club’s efforts to recognise the support they had received.
“We’re investigating that now and we’d love to do that and while it’s virtual, it does demonstrate that we’ll try to get our members and fans in there, in some way, as representation of the big Magpie Army,” Anderson told SEN radio.
“We’re just working through that now but also our corporate partners are really important to us and have been fabulous right throughout.
“We’re looking at ways we can ensure they get great exposure across the season, albeit without crowds in the stadiums.”
Collingwood plans to run a competition for its membership base that would see them “be in the stands even when you can’t be”, while Anderson said the AFL’s been supportive of real and virtual corporate signage.
It’s one of a number of initiatives football fans might need to get used to, with broadcaster Channel Seven also committed to fake crowd noise at least for the next few rounds.
Anderson also said 45 per cent of the Magpies’ revenue comes from match-day-related activities, including membership, gate-takings and corporate hospitality and sales.