Portsmouth chief Mark Catlin: iFollow will offer vital financial lifeline to meet behind-closed-doors costs

Broadcasting service iFollow has emerged as a crucial financial lifeline as cash-strapped clubs prepare to stage matches behind closed doors.

Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 7:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 8:48 am
Pompey will be relying on iFollow to help meet running costs should games go behind closed doors. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages/PinP
Pompey will be relying on iFollow to help meet running costs should games go behind closed doors. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages/PinP

Fans are likely to be locked out of grounds for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign, with fixtures scheduled to take place in their absence.

Denied vital match-day revenue generated through supporter spend, iFollow now represents the sole income contributing towards the cost of hosting games.

Mark Catlin believes the live video streaming service could enable Pompey to generate a small match-day profit, with fans instead paying to watch games from home.

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And with club running costs potentially reaching thousands for each fixture, he believes the iFollow windfall is now pivotal.

The Blues’ chief executive said: ‘Since iFollow started, Pompey have been at the forefront, working with the EFL on trying to perfect that product which this last season has been on the whole very good.

‘Figures have been increasing and it is now for products such as iFollow to step up should supporters not be allowed back in to watch games.

‘For the majority, it is never going to replicate the figures you actually get from stadia attendance, such as secondary spend through people attending and corporate clients.

‘Its income will be a relatively small percentage – however, anything which can help at the moment can only be a good thing.

‘That will be the only income from behind closed doors matches. Even then, there’s still a lot of expense in putting a game on.

‘The emergency services will still be required, our staff, referees, linesmen, fourth officials, these all cost money. Not huge sums, but there’s a figure just for putting a game on behind closed doors at Fratton Park.

‘For us, it's not hundreds, but thousands of pounds to do that.

‘We should break even with iFollow and maybe turn in a small profit, but it won’t be huge. There’s still an expense for putting a game on.

‘I can't say for definite because I don’t know each individual clubs’ circumstances, but the revenue you get from iFollow will, in most cases, be enough to cover the expenses of clubs putting it on behind closed doors.’

The iFollow service is only available to clubs which have opted in, with others preferring to employ their own club digital services.

This includes 13 Championship clubs and three in League Two – with Sunderland the only League One omission.

Meanwhile, Catlin has raised the dilemma of having medical services continuing to attend behind-closed-doors matches.

He added: ‘Having the St John Ambulance – and ambulances in general – is among the concerns I know a lot of people have. Nobody wants to take away resources from the NHS at the moment.

‘Just putting the games on behind closed doors, morally is that the right thing to do?

‘We are going to be guided by the government on that.’

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