April 17 2014 Latest news:

The football season kicks off properly in England this weekend, and it won’t be long before the first 2011-12 horror stories of football club finance start doing the rounds.

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Apart from the elite clubs in the Premier League or the lucky few being bankrolled by sugar-daddies, money is increasingly tight throughout the game.

Spending to accumulate has seen some sides successfully reach the Promised Land, but many others have seen their finances buckle under the strain of untenable spending practices.

With every income stream vital for clubs, the ongoing popularity of so-called affinity accounts is no surprise – at least not from the clubs’ point of view.

Each year, the savings providers hand over cheques to their partner football clubs, with the payments worth up to 1.25pc of the combined daily average balances in the accounts.

It can add up to a lot of money – Ipswich Town’s youth development has benefitted to the tune of £7.2m since 1998; Stoke City fans have helped their club earn £6.7m since 1999; and the Canary Account for Norwich City supporters has raised £3.3m over the past 14 years.

Unfortunately, these deals make less financial sense to the fans, who themselves should be looking for the greatest return possible on their savings during these cash-strapped times.

“Affinity savings accounts offer financial lifeline to football clubs but a pittance for savers,” said Andrew Hagger, of Moneynet.

“These accounts provide a vital boost to club coffers. However, devoted fans are receiving a mere pittance by way of interest for themselves.”

Mr Hagger said affinity accounts were paying average interest rates to account holders of 0.15pc.

“To put this into perspective, a fan with £1,500 would earn just £1.80 interest in a year after basic rate tax, whereas his club will benefit by up to £15 (at 1.25pc),” he said.

“If savers chose to deposit their cash in the best-buy instant access account paying 3.15pc from Coventry Building Society, their annual return would be a much healthier £37.80 after tax.

“It’s apparent that loyal fans are prepared to forgo a far better return on their nest eggs on the understanding that the bank balance of their beloved team will benefit as a result.”

Louise Holmes, a spokesman for Moneyfacts, said: “Unfortunately, the interest rates paid on affinity accounts can be disappointingly low compared with standard savings accounts.”

However, Ms Holmes added that the interest rate was not the only factor for fans to bear in mind.

“As well as supporting their clubs financially via their savings funds, affinity accounts tend to offer fans additional perks such as season ticket and club shop discounts,” she said.

For example, Canary Account holders at Norwich are eligible for a 5pc discount on a season ticket in the Norwich and Peterborough stand.

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