THE government U-turn which prevented supporters from returning to grounds had the potential to be catastrophic for Oxford City – but out of adversity they are finding a way to cope.

While a bailout for National League clubs is on its way, at this stage City do not know how much they will receive, or when it is due to arrive.

That uncertainty on the eve of the campaign created a big problem.

But City’s response was to invest, in equipment and staff to begin broadcasting their home matches.

Streaming services are becoming more widespread, although they have a reputation for being unreliable at times.

City’s approach has been paying off so far, having teamed up with CJP Broadcast.

Unlike many iFollow set-ups in the English Football League, the system at Court Place Farm uses two cameras.

Oxford Mail:

  • Some of the production equipment used to put the broadcasts together

The club’s six-man media team have been trained to film, produce and commentate on-site, adding replays and graphics to the feed.

Mick Livesey, City’s commercial director, is thrilled with the results, which have been generating vital funds in the prolonged absence of gate receipts.

He said: “We haven’t just put together a live stream, we think it is better than what you get at higher levels.

“We may be in National League South, but everything we do we try to be the best in class.

“Fans can’t come, but the show must go on. We have an exciting team and want to share it with our fans.

“It’s helped us massively. We needed to be inventive and deliver something rapidly that would help us survive.”

City’s screen test came last week with a 2-0 win against Bath City and was followed up by Tuesday’s 6-1 victory in the Emirates FA Cup against Tamworth.

Season ticket holders get access to the streams as part of their package, but sales of the £6.99 passes to other fans have encouraged the club.

Although FA Cup matches are restricted to the UK, City had viewers tuning in from Asia, Australia and the United States for the Bath game.

And given an entire family can watch for the price of one link, rather than paying for individual tickets, Livesey believes the virtual gates are higher than the physical crowds last term.

He said: “I believe there are more eyeballs watching now than came to see us last season.

“Our average gate then was about 360. We’re under that (in streaming passes), but not a million miles off.”

It also helps keep sponsors happy after a productive summer threatened to be undermined by fans being locked out.

“This off-season has been a record for the club in terms of commercial deals,” Livesey said.

“What we have to do is make sure we deliver something to those businesses who have backed us, so they get a return.”

He added: “The streaming was a big investment, but it will pay for itself in no time at all.

“We are ahead of schedule, which is very pleasing. I can only see it going one way.”