On 31 October 2016, UK Sport and Sport England jointly published ‘A Code for Sports Governance’ (the “Code”).
The Code will apply from April 2017 to all organisations within the UK to whom UK Sport and Sport England provide grant funding, whether for grass roots or elite sport, regardless of size and sector, including national governing bodies, clubs, charities and local authorities.
The Code comes at a time when sport and its governance is under increasing public scrutiny. According to UK Sport and Sport England, the introduction of the Code will mean that organisations in the UK seeking public funding for sport and physical activity must “meet new gold standards of governance considered to be among the most advanced in the world”.
The Code sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that will be required from organisations seeking public funding. At the heart of the Code are five basic principles of good governance:
The Code seeks to strike a balance between requiring high standards of governance whilst not wanting to over burden organisations with unnecessary bureaucracy or deterring small organisations from applying for public funding.
In an effort to achieve this, UK Sport and Sport England recognise that the size of the funding to be made available will differ. Therefore UK Sport and Sport England intend to adopt a proportionate approach to the application of the Code by creating three “Tiers” of funding. Each Tier has a different level of mandatory governance “Requirements”:
Examples of Tier 3 Requirements include, a maximum Board size of 12 persons (unless otherwise approved by UK Sport and Sport England), the organisation must maintain an up-to-date skills matrix detailing the experience of its Board, maximum terms for Board members, the role of chairperson and CEO must be filled by different people, at least 25% of the Board shall be independent non-executive directors, the appointment of the chairperson and independent non-executive directors must be via an open, publicly advertised recruitment process and the organisation must adopt a target of and take all appropriate action to encourage a minimum of 30% of each gender on its Board.
It is clear that the Code heralds a new era in accountability and transparency in sports governance in the UK. According to UK Sport and Sport England, separate guidance will be provided on how compliance with the Code will be monitored and assessed.
Many organisations will already have appropriate structures, policies and procedures in place and operate in compliance with the Code. However it is likely that the Code will pose certain challenges for many organisations as they will need to draft, agree and implement a wide range of policies/procedures and other documentation to ensure their organisation meets the Requirements of UK Sport and Sport England set out in the Code applicable to the level of funding required to further develop their sport.
If you would like any more information on any of the points raised above or any advice in connection with the Code, please contact:
David Bentham (Partner) – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Deirdre McCarthy (Associate) – Email: email@example.com
Telephone – 0161 672 5450
Please note the information contained in this briefing is intended as a general review of the subject featured and is not intended as specific legal advice.
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