Ann Budge accuses SPFL chief Neil Doncaster of lacking leadership over no-strings-attached cash offer

Hearts owner reveals ‘amazing philanthropic gesture’ to help clubs survive

Hearts owner Ann Budge has accused SPFL chief Neil Doncaster of a lack of urgency and leadership.
Hearts owner Ann Budge has accused SPFL chief Neil Doncaster of a lack of urgency and leadership.

Ann Budge has accused the SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster of lacking leadership and urgency when offered a no-strings-attached, multi-million pound, charitable donation to fund the survival of Scottish football clubs.

The Hearts owner revealed there was interest from several benefactors who have a history of sizeable, anonymous donations to the Tynecastle club and who now want to offer monetary respite to lower league clubs.

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Budge last week submitted a paper on league reconstruction aimed at addressing the specific needs of every club as the sport tries to plot a way out of the coronavirus shutdown.

Understanding that many of those clubs are struggling to reconcile a desire to get back up and running with the business obstacles associated with the cost of testing staff for Covid-19 and playing behind closed doors, the anonymous benefactors want to ensure all 42 member clubs come through this crisis.

But Budge is angry that the governing body appears to be dragging their heels – despite citing a need to get prize money to cash-strapped clubs as quickly as possible as the primary reason for ending the league season early and relegating Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer in the process.

“I have actually taken to the SPFL an opportunity for an amazing philanthropic gesture from some of the people I know to help lower division clubs cope with the challenges that they are going to be confronted with,” Budge said on Radio Scotland’s Sportsound. “I have taken that to them and now I am being asked if I can put it down in writing and tell us exactly what's on offer!

“It's a nonsense, it’s not quick enough, they are not decisive enough. ‘We’re a members organisation,’ they say, ‘you'll have to put down what you are suggesting'. I am offering them money, not my money, so let’s set up a fund to help people.”

Criticising what she perceived as the SPFL dragging its feet, she added: “That is not what I expect from the governing body. I expect them to take more leadership.”

Hitting back, Doncaster, said he was pleased to hear that there were no conditions attached, and said: “I had been under the impression that Ann was going to continue talking to the potential investors, but if it is now appropriate for me to talk to them directly, I am very happy to do so.”

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