Carlisle United have made £25,000 from live-streaming their first five league games of the season to fans.

The Blues have confirmed the early figures from supporters’ use of the iFollow service, which has been a lifeline at a time fans are not allowed to attend games.

United say it has provided a “welcome contribution” at a time their funds have been hit by a lack of matchday income.

They say about £100,000 of streaming income will be earned over the 2020/21 campaign if current patterns remain.

The Blues say they hope fans will continue using the service in ever-increasing numbers.

They also highlighted, though, the difference between streaming income and their usual matchday takings, which chief executive Nigel Clibbens says amounts to about £575,000 in a normal season.

That, he says, helps to underline the heavy shortfall clubs at United’s level are facing because of Covid-19.

United say they have seen a total of 3,093 paid streams from games against Cambridge, Southend, Scunthorpe, Barrow and Port Vale, the club earning £8 per stream.

Barrow was the most popular game with fans, with 961 live streams, followed by Port Vale (684), Cambridge (643), Scunthorpe (619) and Southend (486, on a day 1,000 home fans were allowed into Brunton Park for a test event).

United say the figures put them fourth in League Two for paid home streams and eleventh for paid away streams.

This does not include free passes given to season ticket holders, which some clubs are doing more than others.

United had 304 free passes used by season-ticket holders for the Barrow game, which had initially been intended as another game fans could have attended in person.

Carlisle say a rough breakdown of £5,000 per game from streaming is in contrast to more than £25,000 per game from walk-up ticket sales, and £15,000 from season tickets.

In a statement the Cumbrians said: “We can now see how this new streaming income makes a welcome contribution to the total match ticket income lost due to the lock out, but it also demonstrates how big a gap remains.”

The Blues say iFollow remains a good way for fans to support United financially and support the team in spirit.

They also say the iFollow technology is more “robust” than before, adding: “It is clear as more fans use the system, and become familiar with it, the easier and better the experience.

“When there are iFollow issues, we get notified by EFL Digital direct immediately so we can alert fans and help where we can, but we also see the fan issues straight away via social media.

“We understand any poor experiences undermine confidence to buy the product, and that harms the club. We take the quality very seriously, as does the EFL.

“A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to make sure it is continually improved and refined.

“Over the coming weeks we hope more and more fans will use iFollow to cheer the lads on. We know it’s no substitute for being at the game in person, but you can be assured that it makes a difference.”

Chief executive Nigel Clibbens, meanwhile, appealed to supporters not to use any illegal streams or broadcasts, with clubs concerned about piracy risks.

“It has been a problem for many years, particularly at the upper levels of the game with the amount of football that is streamed live,” Clibbens added.

“It’s a very difficult thing to stop, and that’s why I would like to appeal to fans not to make use of any illegal streams or broadcasts they come across.

“This includes if they hear of any pubs, clubs or venues which are advertising under the radar about putting their stream on a big screen, or however they decide to do it.

“These activities take desperately needed money directly away from the club at what is a really difficult time for us, which is obviously not a good thing in itself, and more importantly it’s illegal and it can lead to legal action being taken.”

Income from the first 500 streams bought for United fans for away games is paid to the home club. By the same token, Carlisle get the income from the first 500 away subscribers for games at Brunton Park.