Torquay United fans are planning to combine the club’s live TV stream with group Zoom sessions so they can watch games with their mates as usual - as long as the National League season goes ahead.
Supporters are doing their best to overcome the latest clampdown by the Government, which has stopped the return of fans in the face of rising Covid-19 cases.
If, as is being suggested, the latest measures remain in place for six months, it could jeopardise the whole of the UK winter sporting season without a package of financial help.
The terraces at Plainmoor have been marked out with socially-distanced ‘footprints’, although they will still be vacant when the NL season is due to start on Saturday week, October, 3 at home to Stockport County.
But the Gulls have been working on a combined package of reduced crowds and ‘streamed’ live TV coverage, which has already been in place at pre-season friendlies.
They are planning to offer the service at Plainmoor and away from home.
Kent-based fan John Brice said: “Some of us have already watched pre-season games on the TV stream, and we’re going to do the same for league games, but with everybody linked up via Zoom.
“We can all cheer together that way, and we can make it as near to watching for real as we can.
“it will be great if United does film all the matches, because most of us up here can only get to away games and it doesn’t look as if that will be allowed even when fans can get back.”
Other groups of supporters are planning similar get-togethers.
The Gulls, who took most of their staff off the ‘furlough’ scheme some time ago, had been working on ‘pilot’ gates of 1,000, but without away supporters they can also accommodate gates of at least 2,000 on 30% capacity ‘protocols’.
However, with the latest ‘lockdown’, it remains to be seen how long they, and their NL rivals, could survive without a new package of help.
After wins over Hemel Hempstead and AFC Bournemouth under-23s but a 2-0 loss to Chippenham Town last weekend, manager Gary Johnson takes his squad to Bath City for Torquay’s final pre-season game this Saturday.