Oxford United could recapture some of their 'lost' floating fans following Reading's relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

The Royals' two-year stay in the top flight came to an end on Sunday when their 4-0 victory at Derby on the final day proved insufficient after Fulham snatched a late winner at Portsmouth to save themselves.

Steve Coppell's men now drop into the Championship and they are gearing up to the inevitability of gates falling next season.

While Oxford United are not in the business of getting pleasure from their near-neighbours' misfortunes - unless it happens to be Swindon Town! - they may nevertheless benefit from Reading's relegation.

When the U's dropped out of the Football League two seasons ago, the Oxford Mail received dozens of letters and e-mails from local football fans saying they would no longer go to watch Oxford and would instead travel to Reading.

But the prospect of now watching Preston, Blackpool and Swansea at the Madejski Stadium may not be so enticing.

Oxford United's general manager, Mick Brown, said he knew there were some football followers - especially those living midway between the two, in places like Wallingford and Didcot - who had switched to Reading because of the attraction of watching Premiership football.

"It's difficult to know how many have done that," he said.

"It's possible that those who go along on a casual basis and pick the big matches there will change and come and watch us again.

"Certainly, it will be less of an attraction to go to Reading now they are out of the Premier League and maybe we will win some of them back, but that also depends on how successful we are."

But Paula Martin, chairman of STAR, the supporters' trust at Reading, is not convinced.

"Gates will drop, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if they still hold up around the 20,000 mark," she said.