Ipswich Town top the League One table for iFollow viewers... Here are some virtual attendance figures.

Ipswich Town fans have had to send cardboard cut-outs of themselves to attend games at Portman Road

Ipswich Town fans have had to send cardboard cut-outs of themselves to attend games at Portman Road this season. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town top the League One table for iFollow viewers this season.

With the coronavirus pandemic preventing supporters from being able to physically attend games, the only way people can watch the action is via online streams.

Sunderland v Peterborough has been the most watched League One game on iFollow thus far (8,600), with Ipswich matches occupying the next three places.

Town have around 9,000 season ticket holders for 2020/21 and 4,568 of them redeemed an iFollow code to watch the clash with Rochdale at Portman Road on Saturday, September 26. An additional 2,500 or so £10 match passes were sold to non season ticket holders, making the total virtual attendance in excess of 7,000.

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The club calculates that 75% of their season ticket holders watched that game when taking into account that many would be watching one stream together.

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In terms of away games, which season ticket holders have to pay for, more than 3,500 Town fans bought a match pass for the 1-1 draw at MK Dons, 3,150 bought a pass to watch the 4-1 win at Blackpool, while more than 3,200 bought a pass to watch Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss at Doncaster.

Altogether, Town have sold more than 15,000 match passes so far (not including season ticket holders). That’s more than any League One club this season, including Sunderland (though they have played two less games than Ipswich).

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Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt published his club’s iFollow figures on Twitter this morning. They revealed that 5,888 watched the recent Saturday clash between Ipswich and Accrington at Portman Road – that figure made up of 3,634 Blues season ticket holders who redeemed their code, 2,090 Blues fans who purchased a £10 matchday pass, plus 164 Accrington Stanley fans who purchased a £10 matchday pass.

On average, Ipswich have been getting 2,200 non season ticket holders buying match day passes for home games and they’ve been selling around 3,300 passes for away games.

So how much money does that make the club?

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Well, before each game the two opposition clubs have to agree on what the away attendance would likely have been in normal circumstances. By and large, that will be based on how many visiting fans made the trip for the corresponding fixture last season.

The home club then receives the iFollow money for that number of away subscribers to compensate them for the loss of away fans being in actual attendance. If the away club sells subscriptions over and above the agreed ‘away attendance’ then they bank that money.

In the case of the Ipswich v Accrington Stanley game, the agreed ‘away attendance’ was 106. Accrington actually sold 164 match passes, so they profited from the extra 58 sold – making just £580.

By contrast, Ipswich took around 3,000 fans to MK Dons last season, so the agreed ‘away attendance’ was around that number. Yet Ipswich sold around 3,500 match passes for their recent fixture at Stadium MK, therefore making around £5,000. That’s money they wouldn’t have made last season, but it’s obviously dwarfed by the losses being made for home games.

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The 2,200 or so matchday passes sold for home games – representing income of around £500k over the course of a full season – is nothing compared to the £4.25m that is usually made annually in matchday income from tickets, hospitality, sponsorship, advertising, concourse takings and merchandise sales.

A 3,000 reduction in season ticket sales this season has already cost the club £1m, while the cancellation of the last five home games of last season represented another £1m lost.

Blues owner Marcus Evans, who has said that iFollow is ‘an important income for us’, has estimated the club will lose around £10m in revenue if the entire season is played behind-closed-doors.

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