Philanthropist aid to ‘sustain’ women’s game in COVID-19 crisis
James Anderson, the Edinburgh philanthropist and fund manager, has donated £250,000 to the Scottish Football Partnership Trust to help sustain the women’s game through the covid crisis.
James Clydesdale, chair of the SFP Trust, said: “We are delighted James Anderson has also chosen to help Scottish Women’s Football. The women’s game has been making great progress in the last five years and we don’t want to see this momentum lost due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
The donation to the SFP Trust, who have supported Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) with grants and sponsorship over the last decade, follows on from James Anderson’s backing for the Scottish professional men’s game last week. It is hoped that following the processing of Gift Aid, the donation will increase to £312,500 with 100% of the funds going to support SWF and Member clubs.
Vivienne MacLaren, Chair of Scottish Women’s Football, said: “This support will help provide an incredibly powerful message to all girls and women in Scotland that their sport matters and has not been forgotten in the midst of this pandemic. We are very grateful to James Anderson for recognising this. We are delighted that we are able to deliver this funding via the SFP Trust and thank them for their support.”
James Anderson said: “Football for girls and women in Scotland continues to make incredible progress across every level and this has really inspired me to support SWF through this partnership approach with The SFP Trust. Football is at the heart of communities across Scotland and the women’s game is a key part of this.”
This initial phase of funding will be distributed by the SFP Trust to SWPL 1 and SWPL 2 clubs as well as SWF to sustain non-playing staff and key club infrastructure, dealing with the operational challenges brought about by COVID-19. Benefits will also filter down to other SWF member clubs, including those at grassroots level.
James Clydesdale, chair of SFPT, added: “Women’s football faces extra challenges as its league season was stopped in its tracks almost as soon as it was under way and with it, normal sources of revenues. The grant will be used to fund the sustainability of the women’s game to help the return to training and play and bolster the organisational set up.”
SWF is also expected to nominate to UEFA by May next year the nominee(s) for the 2021/2022 competition. Glasgow City are currently in the quarter finals of this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Vivienne MacLaren added: “As well as the loss of revenues, the inability to play also results in an increasing invisibility of the sport which has grown significantly in recent years, with the Women’s World Cup in 2019 a particular catalyst for improving perceptions and visibility. This is the single biggest investment in SWF and our domestic game, which will undoubtedly be a huge support for our clubs through these unprecedented times and help to maintain the momentum we have built up in recent year. We are thrilled Mr Anderson fully supports our vision for the growth of our game and our conversations were hugely encouraging particularly as he has intimated a desire to develop a longer-term relationship which could be potentially transformational for our clubs and domestic competitions in the future’’.
There are over 200 clubs involved in women’s and girls’ football in Scotland and SWF operates two premier leagues, with 2 regionalised championship divisions making up the performance pyramid. Most clubs recruit only amateur players and are still largely volunteer- driven, with only three employing a small number of players on a full-time basis.
Key developments in recent years have been the investment by SWF in a small staff team to deliver a professional product and service as well as investments by member clubs in infrastructure, staff and facilities.