Sports Minister Tracey Crouch praises governing bodies for reforms that will ‘collectively strengthen sport’

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has praised the way national governing bodies have responded in working to become compliant with the new Code for Sports Governance by the end of October.

Tracey Crouch announced her plan for the new code in the government’s sport strategy ‘Sporting Future’ in December 2015 in a move to ensure that sports bodies in the UK lead the world with the highest levels of governance and transparency.

The code was published by Sport England and UK Sport in October 2016. Sports governing bodies are working with Sport England and UK Sport to become compliant by 31 October 2017.

If sports bodies do not adhere to the code and cannot demonstrate full commitment to becoming compliant with its requirements they will not be eligible to receive public funding. Governance requirements include:

• Greater transparency
• Increased skills and diversity in decision making - with a target of at least 30 per cent gender diversity on boards - and a commitment to greater diversity more generally
• Constitutional arrangements that make boards the ultimate decision-makers

The changes will mark the single, biggest collective step forward in sports governance in the UK, and will set a template for global best practice.

Significant progress is being made, with 50 sports bodies including the Football Association, England and Wales Cricket Board, Lawn Tennis Association, Rugby Football Union and British Cycling all having plans already agreed on how they will become compliant.

The FA’s board, council and shareholders have agreed to reduce the board in size from 12 to 10 members, introducing term limits of 3 x 3 years for both the board and the FA Council while also ensuring that the inclusive and diverse nature of English football is better reflected.

The Lawn Tennis Association agreed all article changes to become compliant with the code in May. This includes reducing council term limits and confirming the primacy of the board as the decision making body.

The RFU has formed an action plan that includes making changes to the composition of the board, including ensuring primacy of the board and the introduction of maximum term limits for council members. The proposals are to be formally presented to the Council in October 2017.

The ECB has committed to reducing the size of its Board and ensure its appointment process and term limits of directors are compliant with the code. The ECB has also initiated its own governance review to ensure that it is best in class for sports bodies.

British Cycling’s National Council agreed at its recent EGM to make the necessary changes to enable it to become compliant with the Code by October. This includes an increase in the number of openly recruited independent board members and an independent chair. The reforms also include a limit for directors of three, three-year terms, with six of the eight current elected members of the board who have exceeded that maximum due to stand down in the autumn.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said:

"I am really pleased with how governing bodies have responded to the introduction of the code. I appreciate for many sports this is not an easy task, due to the complexities of current governance structures, but virtually all of them have stepped up, understand the importance of this work and have changes in the pipeline that will collectively strengthen sport in this country.

"Good governance and transparency in sport is absolutely paramount - not just for effective decision making but to increase diversity, maintain sport’s integrity and ensure millions of sport fans have complete faith in those that run sport."

UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said:

"Our funded sports, in receipt of support from Government and The National Lottery, have all embraced the new code for sport governance, with 100% of the summer Olympic and Paralympic sports with funded World Class Programmes having agreed detailed action plans with us to be compliant by October.

"The changes that are required do present some challenges as they represent a transformational step up for sports governance in this country. It’s time to focus energy on the opportunity to develop a modern sporting system that can grow and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century."

Sport England CEO Jennie Price said:

"Implementation of the Code has been a huge undertaking but we are very pleased with the progress NGBs have made. A lot of change is now happening in a relatively short period of time. Despite the hard work involved, sports bodies have embraced the Code, recognising that better governance means better decision making, and have welcomed the chance to bring their business processes in line with best practice in other sectors. We think these changes will pay off for years to come, with British sport leading the world."

Progress is also being made throughout Olympic and Paralympic sport governing bodies. This includes:

British Gymnastics having strong gender diversity on its board, with 50 per cent of it female, while article changes to ensure the sport is code compliant are due to be agreed at its AGM in October

Royal Yachting Association - board committed to implementing the code in full and “create a world class solution” to its governance.

Boccia UK - already adheres to the majority of the code with 43 per cent of its board being female. The sport is committed to improving transparency through better communication of how it operates.