Secure Trust Bank has seen an almost 20 per cent increase in profit in the first half of 2019 after redirecting capital into season ticket loans for football and rugby fans in the UK.

According to The Times, the listed online challenger bank has almost doubled its exposure to supporters who need help paying for the often-pricey season cards.

Fans of Premier League clubs typically borrow £600 to £800 to purchase their tickets, with clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Celtic agreeing to pay the interest cost on behalf of fans, allowing them to get a loan interest free.

Secure Trust said it was the industry leader with “hundreds of thousands” of borrowers following the decision by a major competitor Zebra Finance to pull out of the market this year.

Zebra Finance, which provides season-ticket finance options for UK sports clubs, confirmed in March that it would no longer accept credit applications after its main lender, Raphaels Bank, withdrew its financial support.

Zebra chief executive and shareholder Peter Fletcher told TheTicketingBusiness.com at the time that the company remains solvent and he is “very hopeful” of maintaining a presence in the market and “ongoing” negotiations with potential new lenders are taking place.

However, he acknowledged that a failure to find a fresh lender to replace Raphaels within the timescale has forced Zebra to halt new credit applications. Zebra will continue to “manage and service existing customers” though, meaning those who had already applied for season-ticket finance for the 2019-20 season were not affected.

Secure Bank Trust has reported that its profits have risen from £15.1m to £18.1m in the six months to 30 June 2019 while its operating income increased from £72.5m to £81.4m. Its total assets now stand at £2.6bn, up 6.7 per cent from December 2018.

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