Covid-19 crisis fund

Fund manager Anderson in historic £3m SPFL deal

Support: James Anderson (pic: Matt Marcus)

The SPFL Trust has received the single biggest personal donation in Scottish football history from asset manager James Anderson.

Mr Anderson, a fund manager and partner with investment firm Baillie Gifford, has gifted the charity £3,125,000 inclusive of gift aid, and has promised further donations.

A Covid-19 crisis fund is to be launched by the SPFL Trust, to which all 42 SPFL clubs will be eligible to apply, for a fixed grant of £50,000.

A condition of the grant is that clubs will need to demonstrate support for the wider community in which they are based.

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The SPFL Trust will also now accelerate plans for a new project, Scottish Football United, which is expected to engage clubs, leagues, governing bodies, and a range of public sector organisations.

It had previously hoped to secure traditional grant funding in 2021 for a 2022 launch but will put plans into place immediately.

“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,” said Mr Anderson.

“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.

I’ve seen first-hand over the last few years what a difference clubs can make to people’s lives

– James Anderson

“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.

“I’m also committing my ongoing support to Scottish football by way of confirming I will make further donations. I have also introduced others who share my values and who are committed to do the same. This is the start of our journey, together.”

The initial cash value of the funding is £2.5m with an additional £625,000 coming from gift aid.

Grateful: Neil Doncaster (pic: SNS Group)

A figure of £2.1m will be made available for clubs to access, with the balance of £1.025m going directly to the SPFL Trust, whose chief executive Nicky Reid 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.”

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.

“On behalf of every one of the SPFL’s 42 clubs, I want to sincerely thank James for his timely and extremely generous financial support at this critical moment.”

Mr Anderson and his wife Morag are close associates of Hearts owner Ann Budge and are part of a group of benefactors who have donated nearly £9 million to the Tynecastle club over the past three years.

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However, the 60-year-old has stressed that his historic donation comes without any preconditions relating to the future structure or governance of the SPFL.

Based in Edinburgh, Mr Anderson joined Bailie Gifford in 1983. As co-manager of the FTSE 100 listed £11bn Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and the US based $40bn Vanguard International Growth Fund, he has helped deliver great investment success.

Mr Anderson and his family have consequently chosen to make significant donations to charities, the arts and academia – and now Scottish football.

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