Spirit of Shankly/Partners Season Ticket Loans

Why is The Liverpool Supporters Union, Spirit of Shankly, trying to flog a season ticket loan scheme through a credit union, that requires you to save with the Spirit of Shankly Share Scheme, just to be eligible to get the loan?

Per the application form:

To be eligible for this loan you need to have been a member of the Credit Union for 10 weeks and to have been paying money into the SOS Share Account with Partners on a regular basis.”

That’s right: Before you can even get the loan for a season ticket, you have to save into a scheme which gives you no dividend, and may incur fees, and was set-up in order to save for a share into a Spirit of Shankly takeover of Liverpool Football Club.

In other words, you must save up for something else, as well as your season ticket.

However, Spirit of Shankly (SOS) claims that the Share Scheme is not a fixed-purpose scheme, but instead;

“… allows you to save for anything – holidays, European trips, future Season Tickets, and if you wish, a future stake in any supporter investment.”

Really? Then why are you forced to save into it, then, before getting a season ticket loan, when it provides no dividend?

Joining the credit union means saving with it for 10 weeks before you become eligible to apply for any financial product or service, and before you even have the ability to save into this share scheme, and then show you are saving regularly into the share scheme, before being eligible for a season ticket loan.

So how much must you save into the share scheme to be eligible for the loan? What does a “regular basis” mean? How long is it? How much is it?

And why then also, does Partners, the Credit Union running the scheme, state on their web site;

“Share withdrawals will not generally be available on this account because of the reasons why it was set up, however we will allow one withdrawal per calendar year to allow for emergencies.”

That doesn’t sound like you can save up and use the money in this scheme for “anything”, as SOS claims. It appears to mean that you need to be able to demonstrate ‘good cause’ for taking money out of the SOS Share account, which you can only do once a year – otherwise you must use this account for the purpose that it was created – for an SOS takeover share.

This is clearly contrary to what SOS claims.

Another aspect of the small print that SOS also neglects to mention is that whatever you save into your regular credit union account, that you have to save into for the first ten weeks, cannot be withdrawn whilst you are repaying a loan. So, if you do save regularly for the first ten weeks, then are able to save regularly into the SOS share scheme, and then get a loan for a season ticket, those funds in that first account cannot be withdrawn until you pay back the loan.

What is currently unclear, is whether you must continue to save into this regular account after the first ten weeks, if you have started saving into the SOS share scheme. Must you also maintain the regular account with continued savings? If you do, then that means you have to save into it for ten weeks, then save into it for a further undefined period, whilst you also save into the SOS Share scheme, before you become eligible for your season ticket loan.

In other words, there may not be another one, but another two other accounts to save into, before you get a loan, and that you may have to continue to save into, whilst you are also paying your loan back.

Apart from the highly questionable SOS advertising, this deal stinks.

You may as well keep it simple and save up through the regular credit union account that you have to set-up in the first place, and take out a loan based on those savings.

It begs the question; why is Spirit of Shankly is advertising misleadingly a scheme forcing, not just new members, but its current members, to save for a share issue, in order to get a season ticket?

Why connect the season ticket to the share scheme at all?

Spirit of Shankly have obtained permission from the new Managing Director of Liverpool FC, Ian Ayre, to distribute leaflets around the stadium for this loan. He has been made aware of the apparent discrepancies over the claims made about it, but at the time of writing, is not known to have done anything – such as to stop the distribution of these materials to Liverpool supporters, for a financial product that is not all it is cracked-up to be.

Addendum:
Following attempts to mislead people on my now defunct Kop blogs, SOS Committee Member, Paul Gardner, but now with SOS Secretary, Graham Smith, in tow, are at it again, but this time on the Liverpool Way forum, in a thread here.

Whilst trying to tell someone that there is confusion over the SOS Share Scheme, with Smith trying to say that, there is no link between the SOS Share Scheme and Season Ticket Loans (“It isn’t linked“), and “it is merely the saving part of the scheme that qualifies you for the loan element…”

However, their target was having none of it:

Quite clearly if I want to get a loan this way, I am being made to save up for an SOS Share. Effectively I would need to save for two things. I reject that idea on principle, and as I cannot see how much and for how long I would need to save up and wait before even being eligible for a season ticket loan, this entire scheme looks too vague and uncertain to go with, with catches that may cost me yet more money down the road.

The SOS Share scheme offers no dividend, and a fee may get charged, so there is no way you can tell how much money that getting a season ticket loan this way will eventually cost you, even though you are supposed to pay it back within 12 months.

I don’t know who’s idea this scheme was, but it looks like a dog’s breakfast to me, and I am inclined to avoid it.”

I have also learned that Partners were asked on 23 April 2011 the following questions about the SOS Season Ticket Loan Scheme. They have not (yet) replied.

After saving £2pw with you for 10 weeks in a regular credit union share account, how much do I have to save into the SOS Share Account before being able to get a season ticket loan?

If I start saving into the SOS Share Account, do I have to keep saving £2pw as well?

Why is it a requirement to have to save for an SOS Share to get this season ticket loan?

What happens when I save the £500 for a share? How would I become eligible for a season ticket loan then?


(Remember that you may be paying the c£700+ cost of a Season Ticket every year)

You say that you can get money out of the SOS Share Account only once a year for emergencies. Can you explain to me what an emergency might be and give an example of something that is not an emergency?

You say: SAVINGS CANNOT BE WITHDRAWN FROM SHARE ACCOUNT 1 WHILST YOU ARE REPAYING ANY LOAN.

Is share account 1 the regular credit union account you setup at the start that you pay £2pw into? If no, then what is it?

Am I not better off just saving up to get a loan for about £800 as a normal credit union member or does the selected season ticket loan have a different interest rate?

What’s the benefit of a spirit of shankly season ticket loan instead of a regular credit union loan for the same amount?

What indeed…

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