Many football league clubs will run out on to the pitch at the start of another season thanks in part to the continuing financial support of their supporters via affinity savings accounts.
These football-themed savings products may provide a vital boost to club coffers, but fans receive a pittance by way of interest. Football savings accounts are, on average, earning the account holder a return of just 0.15 per cent before tax. To put this into perspective, a footie fan with a £1,500 balance would earn just £1.80 interest in a year after basic rate tax, whereas his or her club will benefit by up to £15.
It's apparent that loyal fans who already spend a fortune following their team up and down the land are prepared to forgo a far better return on their own savings on the understanding their beloved team will benefit.
The average rate for a standard (non-football), easy-access savings account is 0.97 per cent, so when you add the 0.15 per cent the account holder receives, plus the 1 per cent – or the 1.25 per cent the club gets in most cases – these football accounts are paying out an above-average total return.
Many teams in the Football League from the Championship through to League Two have for years been living a hand-to-mouth existence with new cases of clubs facing administration every season. Those not fortunate enough to have the backing of super-wealthy overseas investors or benefit from seven-figure TV payouts need all the financial support they can get.
Supporters across the country have been saving in "affinity savings accounts", in some cases for almost 15 years, and have helped pump huge sums into the bank account of their favourite club. The amounts received are quite significant in some cases, with Stoke City receiving more than £7m, Ipswich Town £7.2m, Norwich City £3.3m and Derby County £2m.
Britannia, Norwich & Peterborough Building Society and West Bromwich Building Society are the main providers of football savings accounts in the UK, and between them provide a valuable lifeline to clubs and, in particular, their youth academies.
Each year these providers present the football club with a cheque for up to 1.25 per cent of the value of the combined daily average savings balance for all accounts held by its supporters.
Affinity accounts won't ever provide savers with a market-leading return on their money, but many supporters continue to sacrifice a higher rate of interest happy in the knowledge that they are doing their bit to help their club to stay afloat for another year.
If you want to do more to help your team this year, then sign up for a football savings account by all means, but just be aware that it'll be the club that receives the most benefit, not you.
MBNA extends its credit card range with Manchester United
Last week MBNA launched its latest football tie up with a new Manchester United branded credit card.
The card offers interest free balance transfers for 12 months and purchases for three months plus a competitive revert to a representative interest rate of 16.9 per cent APR.
The big attraction for Reds supporters, however, is more likely to be the discounts available in the club shop and on stadium tours.
In the last decade, MBNA has donated more than £10m to football clubs – a big boost, particularly for those teetering on the brink.
If you take out a football credit card with MBNA the youth training academy at your club receives up to £20 when you first sign up and then a further contribution every time you spend.
Another provider in this market is Sygma Bank which issues football credit cards for Leeds United, Fulham, and West Bromwich Albion among others, and gives you the option to pay for your season ticket interest free over nine months.