A SUBSTANTIAL donation in excess of £3million has been made by businessman James Anderson after an agreement was reached with the SPFL Trust.
The much-needed cash injection will be used to help stricken clubs and support their communities.
Anderson, a fund manager and partner with investment firm Baillie Gifford, has given the charity £3,125,000 inclusive of gift aid – described as the single biggest personal donation in Scottish football history.
A coronavirus pandemic crisis fund will be set up which will provide all 42 SPFL clubs across the four divisions access to receive a £50,000 grant for support during the crisis, provided they prove it will result in a community benefit.
The donation has been made “without qualification or pre-condition relating to future structure or governance at the SPFL”.
SPFL Trust chief executive Nicky Reid, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “We extend our heartfelt thanks to James for this unprecedented gesture. It will enable clubs to access vital funds during these exceptional times, whilst ensuring they can also continue to support the important community work that has been taking place over recent months.
“In Scotland, we often criticise our game, but during this crisis we have seen – once again – that SPFL clubs and their associated charities are trusted to support communities across Scotland. Every club is doing their bit, and so we hope the grants we will now make available will go some way to supporting these efforts.”
The funding will also be used to help launch a new national SPFL Trust programme, Scottish Football United, which will engage clubs, leagues, governing bodies, and a range of public sector organisations.
Benefactor Anderson commented: “Football is at the heart of communities across Scotland, and there are not many societal organisations that bring people together nowadays, to catch them in a net when they fall,” he said.
“When COVID-19 struck, I realised what a significant loss it would be for towns across the country if their local SPFL club’s very survival was threatened.
“This isn’t just about the passion on the pitch, which is why we love the game, but about the responsibility our clubs take in communities across Scotland.
“I’ve seen first-hand over the last few years what a difference clubs can make to people’s lives and so I am very pleased to have been able to offer my support at this difficult time.”
GENEROUS…Neil Doncaster praises James Anderson.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster added: “This extremely generous donation from James will help protect all of our clubs from the very worst effects of COVID-19, enabling them to return to playing as early as it’s safe to do so, whilst continuing to reach out and support communities as they have done throughout the pandemic.”
The Premiership is scheduled to kick off season 2020/21 on August 1 with Celtic bidding for a historic tenth successive title.
The other three divisions await a start date and the SFA have still to announce when the Scottish Cup competition will restart, with October mentioned as a possibility.
Holders Celtic are due to play Aberdeen in the semi-final while Edinburgh pair Hibs and Hearts will meet in the other game to earn the right to play in the Hampden showpiece.