"New services at the heart of the community"

Getting Tough on Sports Governance

Posted: Fri, 13 May 2016 17:16

Getting Tough on  Sports Governance

This week saw the publication of a Charter for Sports Governance in the United Kingdom. Good governance has been at the heart of DCMS sport policy for some time but the new government strategy has signalled a stronger adherence will be required to secure public money.

Although the SRA Code of Good Governance has been used as a guideline for good practise it has taken specific action on some measures to get NGBs in receipt of public funding to take some of the issues - particularly around diversity - seriously.

Good governance shouldn't be just about 'compliance' - it should be at the heart of the culture of sport and recreation and because it makes good business sense. Good governance helps organisations to achieve the best outcomes and by driving organisational excellence and integrity. Although many of the high profile failures over the last year or so have been on the international scene we should not be complacent about the record of many sporting bodies in the UK. Quite rightly there have been serious questions over our most coveted NGB in recent years - British Cycling over its handling of serious allegations from within.

The charter is a precursor to the more thorough unified governance code which we expect to be published in the Autumn. Today's charter includes nine broad themes, covering a wide range of areas including:

· Transparency

· Integrity

· Financial probity

· Leadership and decision making

· Membership

· Independence of thought

· Diversity

· Culture

· Sport England and UK Sport commitments

On the same day of the launch we were at the launch of Sporting Equals campaign to highlight the under representation of the BAME community in sport - especially at coaching, management and Board levels in many of our sport bodies.

Whilst there is always agreement that 'more needs to be done' there has generally been a failure to genuinely take the actions necessary. Indeed at the event the meeting of MPs, Lords and Sporting Equals supporters was mixed in its response to the possibility raised in the Charter for SE & UKsport to introduce targets for Board membership for BAME and disability in the same way they have for gender in the current funding settlements. The idea of a Rooney Rule (from the NFL) also created a difference of opinion. We think the Charter and the Code give us the ideal opportunity to start a revolution in our recruitment to our Boards to reflect the communities they serve. And it isn't just management and Boards but the Councils of some of our NGBs are even more unrepresentative of the wider community and even of their own sports! It is time to act here too.

Modern governance is a must if NGBs are to be in receipt of public funding. We fully support this drive to change the landscape and at a much faster pace. We like the language being used by government - where the Secretary of State has once again threatened the FA to modernise or lose its funding. The old guard have a role - but not running a modern national governing body competing in the modern world.

To be fair this is not a stick just beat at the door of NGBs. In all sectors of the sport, exercise,physical activity and recreation world there is generally little diversity in most of the senior forums. I know colleagues at UKactive, CIMSPA, S&RA are all concerned about these issues. But 'concern' is no longer enough. Only action will do.

We will support the government in being radical in an approach to improved governance. The world is changing fast and sport needs to catch up quickly.

Tags: DCMS, Governance, John Whittingdale