News & Star column 05.11.20

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CUOSC is endorsing the club’s plea to fans not to ‘pirate’ stream United games.

With supporters locked out of Brunton Park because of coronavirus many are taking advantage of the EFL’s iFollow service to watch the Blues in action – and earning the club some much-needed revenue.

The Blues made around £50,000 from the first nine League Two games with an average of 760 paid streams per game. In addition around 300 season ticket holders, who opted to take iFollow rather than a refund, are also watching.

But the club is concerned that ‘pirate’ streaming is on the increase. It is illegal and is only denying the club cash at a time when the whole of lower league football is facing financial hardship.

iFollow charge £10 per game with £8 going into the club coffers and, so far, most Blues fans would agree has been great value for money.

United chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “Our fans are showing support for the team in increasing numbers. They want to be part of it and with them in spirit, even if they can’t be there in person.

“With three games in eight days week after week, the financial cost builds up, so the growing support is really appreciated.” 

On Monday (Nov 9 ) the government is planning a debate on whether to allow football fans to attend elite level matches again.

It follows a petition – signed by nearly 200,000 – calling for a return of supporters.

 But with the country in a new national lockdown it is unlikely to happen any time soon. This is particularly galling for United who held a successful trial event with 1000 fans at Brunton Park – against Southend – back in September.

It also adds even more urgency to the need for a financial bail-out for clubs in Leagues One and Two. Unfortunately, neither the government nor the Premier League appears to be in any hurry to help.

The Blues gave themselves and their fans a big boost on Tuesday night with a great display to beat top-of-the table Newport 3-2. What a shame fans couldn’t be there to see it. It means the United have lost only one in the last eight league games and leaves them fifth in the table.