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 Moneysupermarket.com.

"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 VouchedFor.co.uk

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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Stockbroker

    £Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

    £20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

    £25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence