Premiership football bursts back into our lives this week. Hundreds of thousands of fans denied their Premiership fix during the summer will hand over their hard-earned cash to attend games and buy the new kit. But clubs want their fans to show their support in other ways too, asking them to sign up to their branded savings accounts.
These deals are potentially big business for the financial institutions that offer them, with building societies trying to tap into a defined market. But the rates are poor. Arsenal and Everton, for instance, offer savers opening their club-branded accounts, managed by Britannia building society, just 2.15 per cent interest for a £100 minimum deposit. Likewise, Chelsea supporters probably feel less than flush after being offered 3.40 per cent on deposits above £50,000.
Manchester United's account, also managed by Britannia, pays more, probably because the club has huge support and potentially brings in more business for its partner. Nevertheless, at pay rates of just 3.15 per cent on deposits above £100, rising to 4.40 per cent on savings in excess of £50,000, it lags miles behind the best buys.
Meanwhile, Premiership new boy Hull City offers 2.3 per cent on balances above £100, rising to 4.05 per cent when £100,000 is held in the account.
The Premiership high-flyer for savings rates is Blackburn Rovers. Its account, managed by the local Chorley & District building society, pays 4.35 per cent on deposits above £1,000 and up to 5.25 per cent above £150,000.
But even this offer isn't a winner, according to financial experts.
"Football clubs are not playing fair with fans. These accounts pay pitifully poor rates of interest," says Laura Starkey from financial advice website fool.co.uk. "Among the worst offenders are those clubs that think nothing of spending tens of millions of pounds on new players each season. They deserve to be shown the red card by savers."
Ms Starkey suggests steering clear of football accounts and instead putting cash into deals such as the Kaupthing Edge internet saver, which pays 6.55 per cent. Fans might use some of the extra interest to make a donation to their club's academy, which helps nurture young talent.
This, of course, is the point of the accounts – the sense that you are helping your team by taking out one of these deals.
"What happens is that at the end of the year the building society works out how much money is in the football savings accounts and then hands over the equivalent of 0.5 to 1 per cent interest to the club. This is above and beyond what the saver receives," says Janet Cane at financial analyst Moneyfacts.
So on £10m of deposits, for example, the club will receive £100,000 – not much when set against what is needed to pay Cristiano Ronaldo's "slave" wages.
But according to Ms Cane, the accounts can make a bigger difference further down the football food chain. "Championship and even non-league clubs offer these accounts too, and for some of these clubs money is very tight. The revenue they get from persuading fans to sign up could be a real help."
But all in all, says Ms Cane, fans choosing football accounts are letting their hearts rule their heads: "These people aren't that bothered by the rates; they want to show their loyalty. In truth, I doubt if it's their main account; hopefully it's something they have in addition to a higher-paying instant-access or tax-free individual savings account."