Soccer: Shaq cut-out to boost Northampton playoff bid


(Reuters) – American basketball great Shaquille O’Neal may not able to travel across the pond to support his favourite soccer club Northampton Town but his face will be in the stands during their League Two playoffs.

Although coronavirus guidelines mean matches will be played without spectators, Northampton are looking to fill the stadium with cardboard cut-outs of fans when they face Cheltenham Town in the first leg of the semi-final on June 18.

A cut-out of O’Neal, the former Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic center, wearing his Cobblers scarf will be at the match as part of a crowd mosaic at the PTS Academy Stadium.

O’Neal, a four-times NBA champion, has been a vocal supporter of Northampton for many years, and co-owns an internet radio station in America with club chairman Kelvin Thomas.

“Shaq, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in basketball history, has thrown his support behind Northampton Town and the Cobbler in the Crowd scheme and his cut out will be included in the crowd as the Cobblers take on the Robins,” Northampton said in a statement.

Northampton visit Cheltenham for the return leg on June 22, with the playoff final scheduled for June 29 at Wembley Stadium.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond