The man behind the biggest personal donation ever seen in Scottish football says he felt compelled to support the work being done by clubs in their communities during the Covid-19 crisis.
James Anderson, an Edinburgh-based fund manager and partner with Baillie Gifford, has donated £3.1million to the SPFL Trust to support clubs and help to sustain their community work.
All 42 SPFL clubs will be eligible to receive a £50,000 grant for support during the pandemic, provided they can provide evidence of community benefit.
The funding will also be used to accelerate the launch of a new national SPFL Trust programme ‘Scottish Football United’ which is expected to engage clubs, leagues, governing bodies, and a range of public sector organisations.
Mr Anderson told spfltrust.org.uk: “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. 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.”
The gesture is reward for the amazing work done by clubs’ community departments during the crisis. Across the SPFL, more than 150 different community projects have been created to respond to the pandemic.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to James for this unprecedented gesture,” said Nicky Reid, Chief Executive of the SPFL Trust.
“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.
“James’ donation will also be used to launch one of our biggest ever initiatives, Scottish Football United. We hadn’t expected to be funded for this project until 2022, and so to be able to launch this year is fantastic.”
A separate fund, The Anderson Fund, will also be established, and Mr Anderson has confirmed his intention to provide further additional funding, both directly, and possibly via others in his network.