• One in three (32%) fans rely on loans to buy tickets, but gulf between rates offered on finance is stark
  • As half-season tickets go on sale, fans advised to check the small print, with rates varying from interest-free to 36.3%
  • Heavy admin fees of up to £40 also commonplace

As half-season tickets go on sale from today, football fans are being warned about the massive gulf in rates charged on loans by clubs.[1] Depending on who you support, you may have to pay up to 36.3% APR to watch your favourite team play.

These findings come from research by free-for-life credit report provider Noddle.co.uk – who analysed the charges on season ticket loans for the 2018/19 season across the top four tiers in English football. They also surveyed UK fans’ attitudes to these fees.[2]

Under deals with third party finance providers, some clubs give supporters access to credit so they can pay for their season ticket through instalments.[3] A third (32%) of fans say that without a loan, they wouldn’t be able to buy a season ticket, but Noddle has found that some deals are better value than others.

Mega-rich Premier League clubs are charging on average 12.71%, with a minority of clubs (seven) offering interest and fee-free loans.[4] Regarding fees, it’s some of the largest and wealthiest clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea that hit fans with ‘admin’ charges ranging from £29 to £40.[5]

Fulham charges the highest interest in the Premier League, with fans paying 21.5% and a £30 admin fee to pay-off their season ticket over nine months. Other clubs that charge interest include newly promoted Huddersfield Town (16% APR), Chelsea (13.30% APR) and Liverpool (12.40%).

It’s also not just the glamorous Premier League clubs charging interest on season ticket loans. Clubs in the lower leagues are in on the game too. In fact, the research found that lower league teams were charging their fans higher interest rates than the top tier.[6]

Preston North End, in the EFL’s Championship, charges the highest amount of interest in England at 36.30%. And Bradford City may be towards the bottom of the league in football-terms, but they’re top of the table in League One when it comes to high APR (28.50%). Mansfield Town (22.70% APR), Newport County (22.70% APR) and Notts County (22.70% APR) are joint top (for interest charges) in League Two.

With a massive disparity in the rates charged, it’s no wonder many supporters are feeling disillusioned with the cost of football. Noddle has found that 52% of supporters say they’ve been priced out of attending football matches.

Furthermore, three-quarters (74%) believe that the cost of a season ticket is ridiculous. Three in four (74%) believe it’s wrong for their favourite team to charge high interest on a season ticket loan. And half (50%) believe these loans should be banned all together.

Jacqueline Dewey, Managing Director at free-for-life credit report provider Noddle.co.uk, commented:

“It’s clear – fans should shop around before taking the offer from their club’s finance provider as the rates vary so widely. Using a loan eligibility checker will quickly tell you whether the rate on your season ticket loan is right for you, or not.

“‘By signing up to Noddle, not only can you see your credit report and score, you can also use our free credit matcher tools to view which loans and cards you’re likely to qualify for. And as this leaves only a soft search, it won’t affect your credit rating.”

Noddle’s top tips for being a financially-savvy football supporter: 

  1. Budget – when it comes to good financial management, nothing beats a budget. If you are someone that can’t miss your favourite team play on the weekend, start putting money aside today, for next season. Not only will you be in a good position to jump on any early-bird season ticket offers (with the money saved), it will also reduce your chances of needing to rely on credit when the time comes to it
  1. Payment Options – it’s important to weigh up your options when looking to make a big purchase on a season ticket. The best and most cost-effective way is buying the ticket outright (e.g. not relying on credit). But if this is a stretch, and you really want to watch your team play live, make sure you shop around before taking out a loan
  1. Credit Eligibility – remember not all credit is created equally. Some lenders offer better rates than others. And as a rule of thumb, having a good credit score will give you access to better rates on the market. At Noddle, we have a helpful loan and card matcher tool that enables you to see what products you’re likely to be accepted for based on your credit score. That way you can make an informed decision on what loan offers the best value. Even better, the eligibility tool only leaves a soft search on your credit report, so it won’t affect your credit score
  1. Check your credit report – before taking out any type of credit, whether that’s a mortgage, mobile phone contract or season ticket loan, it’s important that you check your credit report. By checking your credit report, you can make sure that all the information on your file is correct. Any incorrect information may affect your ability to be accepted for credit. Access your credit report for free at Noddle.co.uk