Money: Strikers, sweepers and super savers

Football clubs have found a new way of exploiting their fans' loyalty, writes Stephen Spurdon

Football clubs have long made surprisingly large amounts of money by selling their supporters replica kit; an increasing number of clubs are taking advantage of their customer loyalty to sell financial services.

Instead of being surprised at the the notion of a Tottenham Hotspur savings account, many analysts feel it's natural for clubs to cash in on a money- making opportunity. As marketing expert Bob Hands, of Affinity Solutions, says: "Fans have an attachment to their club which may mean that they will buy anything from them."

Many of the 92 Premier and Nationwide league clubs are now generating funds by offering branded credit cards and savings accounts. A significant number are moving into insurance and even investments.

The first football club savings account, launched by West Bromwich building society for West Bromwich Albion in September 1995, has so far made pounds 500,000 for the club. As is the case with most of these accounts, the building society pays the club a bonus worth 1 per cent of the total balance of the account over the year.

They may add up for the clubs, but do these services make financial sense for the punters?

Savers get a range of benefits including money-off season tickets and commission-free travel money. The West Bromwich branch-based account has a minimum balance of pounds 250 and the current gross APR is 2.75 per cent, rising to 3.25 per cent gross APR for pounds 5,000 plus.

The Lambeth Building Society account, customised for Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers is the pick of the bunch, offering 4.05 per cent for minimum holdings of pounds 250.

Better rates are available elsewhere, such as Tesco's instant access account paying 4.5 per cent from pounds 1 upwards but football savers do get extra incentives. Leeds United's account with Leeds & Holbeck building society, with a paltry starting rate of 1.5 per cent for pounds 100, offers two free tickets to non-premium home games (that is, against Charlton) and 10 per cent off club store products.

Thousands of people are happy to carry a club credit card. One of the biggest players is Bank of Scotland, which provides affinity card services to eight of the FA Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Blackburn, 30 clubs in the Nationwide League and Hearts and St Johnstone in Scotland. These cards, which have no annual fee, have an introductory rate of 11.9 per cent for six months, which then reverts to 19.9 per cent. Clubs get 25p for every pounds 100 spent using the card, plus pounds 2.50 when you open the account, pounds 2.60 if it is in use after eight months and pounds 2.50 after 20 months. The Tottenham Hotspur affinity card supplied by MBNA is a better deal. The no-annual-fee card has an introductory rate of 6.9 per cent with a standard APR of 17.9 per cent.

The next level of services involves general insurance such as home, motor and travel. The biggest player is broker JLT Direct Club, which does business with clubs including Derby, Ipswich and Aston Villa.

Spokesman Philip Zeidler said that on average the clubs make pounds 10 on each policy. He said: "We like to think that this is a win, win, win situation for the insurer, club and supporter."

A few clubs have gone further, and offer investment deals. However, previous examples do not offer grounds for optimism. One case involved the sale of personal equity plans to Celtic fans through Caledonian Investments. That ended two years ago when Caledonian Investment's boss was jailed for fraud.

This has not dissuaded a small group of clubs that have launched pensions and investment schemes. The most highly developed service is from Leeds United Financial Services, a tied agent for Allied Dunbar.

Adam Pearson, the Leeds United finance director, admitted that the club was receiving a better-than-average commission rate from Allied Dunbar but that this was not being passed on to the fans in the form of lower charges. He said: "We feed it back as a rebate on season tickets. So, for instance, if they take out a pension they may get a pounds 150 saving on the price of a season ticket."

Jackie Blyth, of the Financial Services Authority, said the watchdog had not received any complaints concerning football clubs' services. Whatever happens, there will be more football-linked finance products in future. The market is too lucrative to ignore.

n West Bromwich Albion Premier account, 0990 143668; Lambeth (QPR/Spurs/West Ham), 0345 887777; Leeds & Holbeck Privilege Savings (Leeds United), 0800 072 8738.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee