By Hardik Vyas
(Reuters) - Eighth-tier side Marine may be struggling to make ends meet but they are dreaming of staging one of the biggest FA Cup upsets of all time agaisnt eight-time winners Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
The Northern Premier League Division One North West side beat League Two (fourth-tier) Colchester United on penalties in the first round and overcame Havant & Waterlooville after extra time to earn a blockbuster clash with Jose Mourinho's Spurs.
Preparations are in full swing at Rossett Park as the Merseyside club prepare for the biggest match in their 126-year history, with several infrastructure changes made for the television broadcasters, media and match officials.
Marine's hope of generating revenue through the turnstiles were dashed when games returned to being played without fans in attendance amid Britain's stricter COVID-19 restrictions.
However, former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher has stepped forward to sponsor Marine's dugouts and pre-match warm up tops for the match, while the club have raised funds by selling virtual tickets at 10 pounds ($13.57) each.
"It is the first time ever in the history of the FA Cup that a step eight team has played a top-flight Premier team in round three and the tie has caught the imagination of football fans from around the world," Marine chairman Paul Leary said.
"For our players, staff, supporters, sponsors, neighbours and residents of Crosby, Sefton and beyond it is a wonderful football moment that will probably never happen again."
Tottenham head to Marine after booking a place in the League Cup final with a 2-0 victory over Brentford on Tuesday.
Mourinho may look to rest deadly attacking duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min but should still have enough firepower to avoid any slip-up in the competition.
Aston Villa have announced that a number of first-team players have tested positive for the virus ahead of Friday's home match against Liverpool, with the club closing their training ground as a precaution on Thursday.
League Two (fourth-tier) Morecambe have also suffered a COVID-19 outbreak in their squad but are still preparing to visit last year's runners-up Chelsea as scheduled on Sunday despite having not played since Dec. 26.
Holders Arsenal, who have won the trophy a record 14 times, host Newcastle United, while Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Crystal Palace in the other two all-Premier League ties.
Twelve-time winners Manchester United host Watford, while Manchester City welcome Birmingham City.
The FA has scrapped replays for the 2020-21 competition to ease fixture congestion, while prize money has been halved to 1.8 million pounds due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
($1 = 0.7371 pounds)
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)