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Avoid this West Brom penalty mortgage

If I were to observe: “It’s a funny old game, innit?” you’d immediately know I was talking football wouldn’t you? Maybe not, because thanks to West Bromwich I could be talking about the mortgage business.

One of the society’s latest offerings targets fans of non-league Telford United – I guess you’d have to call it a niche product. The sales hook is apparently a West Brom donation to the club of 1,000 for every 10 fans who take a mortgage with it. I say apparently because its mortgage desk didn’t know anything about it when I called. I’m surprised it’s not marketing this as the beautiful mortgage.

If Telford’s expectations are realised, sales will net the club 10,000 by the end of the season. Perhaps enough to buy Peter Crouch from Liverpool but unlikely to make Jose Mourinho tremble.

Unfortunately for Telford, I’ve detected a flaw in the product – it seems to be based on the assumption that football fans have the same intelligence quotient as football players. In return for their 100-equivalent donation, each of the 10 beautiful borrowers gets a two-year fixed-rate deal at 1.99%. But this leaps to base plus 1.99% for a further three years.

And the largesse doesn’t come without strings. Fans are locked into the loan for the full five years and to transfer out during this closed season they’d be hit with early repayment charges scaled from 6% for the first three years to 4% during the fourth year to 2% in year five. It’s a kind of loan of two halves.

Pretty much every other lender in the country offers a better package deal than this and fans would be financially better off taking any one of them, then simply writing out a personal cheque for 100 and posting it to the club.

Of course financial acumen and football fervour rarely seem to make compatible bed fellows. And anyway, why would anyone ever want a mortgage, a credit card or a savings product with anything other than West Ham on it?

So it may be that Telford United will, after all, get the funding the club has set its sights on. But it would have been more certain of drumming up cash if it had negotiated a fee for the publicity the product gets rather than relying on what flows from sales.

So to do my bit and strengthen Telford’s chances, let me say West Bromwich is a jewel among building societies, employs really nice staff and is committed to customer service – especially to football fans. And to ensure I can still take my family to Ironbridge without fear of recrimination or reprisal, might I also confirm that the only team worth supporting in the UniBond Premier Division is Telford United.

Just avoid this penalty mortgage – which could have been designed by Thierry Henri and Robert Pires.peter mounty

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