Penalty! Fans pay a price for loyalty

It's nearly impossible to score a decent interest rate with a football-club-branded financial product

You may still be trying to get the monotonous buzz of the vuvuzela out of your head, but yet another football season is now upon us.

The first round of Championship games has already been played and this week the start-whistle on the multi-billion-pound Premiership will be blown. Football fans will be expected to dig deep in their pockets for tickets, travel and replica kit. But most of the big clubs hope that supporter loyalty will stretch that little bit further to include financial services such as savings accounts, credit cards and even the odd mortgage.

"Affinity products branded in club colours have been around for a while and they have a steady following of supporters," says Kevin Mountford from the financial comparison website

"Some supporters like to feel a sense of belonging by flashing their club credit card, or paying money into a club-branded savings account. They will even put up with moderate rates in order for that buzz," Mr Mountford says.

But at what cost does this buzz of belonging come? Research from the financial information service Moneyfacts shows that the interest rate earned on such savings accounts is well below the best buys and even the average paying accounts. In some instances, interest earned is close to zero.

Ten of the 20 clubs in England's Premier League offer a savings account. Eight of these are run by the Britannia and pay just 0.12 per cent on £5,000. This equates to £6 in interest earned over a year, and that's before tax, as none of the club savings accounts on offer in the Premier League or the Championship qualify for ISA status, so tax is due at your marginal rate. For supporters of West Brom and Birmingham the prospects are even less appetising, with interest on £5,000 savings just 0.05 per cent. Holding £5,000 in the Albion Premier Saver and Blues Super Saver will earn you just £2.50, and again that's before tax.

Followers of clubs further down the football food chain fare a little better. The Donny Rovers Saver, say, pays 1 per cent on £5,000, as does the Leeds United Saver. But, again, even these rates are a long way from best buys. On £5,000 Moneyfacts reveals that you can earn 4.75 per cent at the ICICI bank on a five-year bond, or 3 per cent from Northern Rock on a cash ISA. As for fans of Scunthorpe, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Hull, Norwich, QPR, Millwall and Sheffield United, they will receive a paltry 0.1 per cent from Norwich and Peterborough for their loyalty.

As for credit cards, by far the biggest provider is MBNA, which has deals running with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa and Newcastle, as well as a host of other big-name clubs. They charge a uniform 16.9 per cent on purchases and offer three months interest-free on new purchases, and 12 months free on balance transfers. Again, this is a long way shy of best buy. "You can get 6.8 per cent from Barclaycard's Simplicity Visa, 16 months free balance transfer through Clydesdale and Yorkshire bank, and 0 per cent on new purchases through the Tesco credit card," says Michelle Slade of Moneyfacts. Clubs making the most of fan loyalty even extend into the mortgage market, with Man Utd, one of the world's richest clubs, offering supporters a range of three- and five-year tracker mortgages, provided, again, by the Britannia.

But the headline interest rate isn't frankly what club accounts are about. Many fans choose a club savings account or credit card because the financial institution running it siphons off some of the interest paid, or money spent, on the card to the club they follow.

"This is, for many fans, the main reason why they choose these products. They think of it as a painless way to support their club, forgoing a little interest, or, in the case of credit cards, seeing a portion of the cash they spend benefit their club," Ms Slade says.

As a rule of thumb, around 1 per cent of interest on a savings account goes to the club and, interestingly, this has remained steady during this period of historically low returns for savers, with the money the fan receives, rather than the club's portion, being cut by the provider.

Some of the accounts and cards on offer pay money directly into the club's youth academy; others simply get swallowed up in the general club coffers.

"Fans of Chelsea and Liverpool and some of the lower league clubs know that interest on the money they save or the fraction of their credit card spend will go into the development of young players, so they may be able to see a tangible benefit in the years to come on the pitch," says Mr Mountford. "Others, though, may not realise that their sacrifice may well go to pay a bit of the interest on the club's debts – the debts of the millionaire owners."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Arts and Entertainment
Written protest: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has sent an open letter to the Culture Secretary
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

    Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

    Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

    £18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

    Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss