SNP Aberdeen links questioned over Scottish Open golf sponsorship

Aberdeen Asset Management’s links with the pro-independence Scottish National Party that led the campaign on Scottish independence has been thrown into question following claims the company received approximately £4m worth of indirect support from the Scottish National Party.

The Times reports through sponsorship of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open golf tournament, the asset manager was given indirect payments from the SNP.

Speaking ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence held yesterday Aberdeen AM chief executive Martin Gilbert (pictured) said he would not reveal his vote but argued that an independent Scotland would be a “big success.”

Aberdeen Asset Management currently has title sponsorship at the Scottish Open golf tournament, which is funded by the taxpayer, and is also said to have signed a memorandum alongside the Scottish government in August to carry on this sponsorship until 2020.

Anonymous pro-union business figures have claimed that Aberdeen has been receiving additional benefit from its promotion and marketing at the event after the budget for sponsorship by EventScotland, which is funded by the Scottish government, was dramatically increased.

Aberdeen took over sponsorship of the Scottish Open back in 2012 as part of a three year deal from Barclays, which had pulled out of the event.

The spend on promotion by EventScotland was £235,000 during Barclays’ sponsorship but this has jumped to £2.1m worth of taxpayer money for all marketing and promotion at the event since Aberdeen took over, with a further £2m set to be spent in 2015 and 2016.

This also brings the overall spend on the Scottish Open up to around a quarter of EventScotland’s annual budget for the next two years.

Aberdeen Asset Management itself is thought to be paying several million pounds a year to have title sponsorship of the event, the newspaper reports.

The Scottish government is said to support its level of spending on the Scottish Open based on the calculation that the golf event generated approximately £5m in economic activity back in 2012.

A spokesperson from Aberdeen Asset Management told The Times: “Aberdeen Asset Management is proud to sponsor the Scottish open on purely commercial grounds and is pleased that the event secures substantial international coverage.”

Gilbert also acknowledged openly in a recent interview with The Scotsman that the company got “a really good return” from the event thanks the broadcast of the tournament by NBC in America.

He said: “Alex Salmond…was the one who got us in to the Scottish Open. He approached us. It’s good for us and we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t get a good return. We are getting a really good return with the TV audience in America.”