As half-season tickets go on sale, football fans are being warned about the massive gulf in rates charged on loans by clubs. 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 – who analysed the charges on full season ticket loans across the top four tiers in English football. They also surveyed UK fans’ attitudes to these fees. 

Under deals with third party finance providers, some clubs give supporters access to credit so they can pay for their season ticket through instalments. 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 11.5% APR, with only the minority of clubs (seven) offering entirely fee-free loans. It’s some of the largest and wealthiest clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea that hit fans with the largest ‘admin’ charges ranging from £29 to £40 in place of interest.

These fees equate to significant APR rates considering the loans are often being paid off in less than a year. For example, Chelsea’s fee for paying in instalments is 3.1% of the value of the ticket, so on a typical adult season ticket (£940) this would be £29.14. As the loan is paid off over five months with a larger first payment, it is the equivalent of a loan rate of 13.3% APR.

Other clubs that charge fees include Arsenal (£40 fee / 7% APR) and Liverpool (£36 fee / 12.4% APR). Newly promoted Huddersfield charges the highest APR in the Premier League, with fans paying 16% APR, given its £17 admin fee to pay-off the season ticket over ten months. Several other clubs charge, but either wouldn’t supply their admin fees charged or don’t clearly display what any admin fee represents in APR.

It’s also not just the glamorous Premier League clubs charging 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 fees than the top tier.

Preston North End, in the EFL’s Championship, charges the highest in England at 36.30% APR (£15 admin fee), although this is largely driven by the low ticket price and short repayment term (four months) compared to the admin fee. 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 charges) in League Two, also driven by high admin fees.

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 altogether.

Jacqueline Dewey, Managing Director at free-for-life credit report provider, said “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.”