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A Code for Sports Governance

Organisations seeking public funding for sport and physical activity must meet gold standards of governance considered to be among the most advanced in the world

A Code for Sports Governance sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that are required from those who ask for government and National Lottery funding.

The Code, first published in 2016, has three tiers and will apply to any organisation seeking funding from us or UK Sport, regardless of size and sector, including national governing bodies of sport, clubs, charities and local authorities.

It’s proportionate, expecting the highest standards of good governance from organisations requesting the largest public investments.

A group of lacrosse players shaking hands after a game.

The Code isn’t a barrier to organisations obtaining public funding. Indeed, many of the requirements build on things already being done within the sector.

It also includes clear guidance to help organisations meet the requirements and raise standards. We'll support organisations to achieve the standards.

Review

In July 2020, along with UK Sport, we announced that the Code for Sports Governance was to undergo a formal review to look at areas where it would benefit from further development, including around equality, diversity and inclusion.

This review process has involved a wide and inclusive consultation to ensure the experiences of both current partners and other organisations involved in improving governance, diversity and inclusion contributed to the shaping of the revised code.

We thank all of our partners for their contributions to the consultation phase and their help in shaping the future of the Code – not least given it took place against the backdrop of the challenges faced in dealing with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In July 2021, we and UK Sport announced changes to strengthen the Code:

Diversity and inclusion action plan

Each relevant partner, including national governing bodies, will be required to agree a diversity and inclusion action plan (DIAP) with us and UK Sport.

The plans are expected to be ambitious and robust and set out clearly how partners will work to improve diversity and inclusion across their whole organisation – not just at board level.

The annual publication of DIAPs will deliver greater transparency about progress, allowing the public celebration of success but also highlighting where there are gaps and where some organisations fall behind.

Organisations will be supported to set benchmarks if relevant in specific areas and will be expected to publish their first plans by the end of summer 2022, with meaningful progress made within two years.

We and UK Sport will secure additional support to help develop and monitor DIAPs. If a sustained lack of commitment or progress is not evident, this will be deemed non-compliant and withdrawal of funding will be actively considered.

Welfare and safety in sport

To help strengthen welfare and safety in sport, organisations will be required to appoint a Director to take a lead in this area.

This requirement follows other major work on this issue, including investing to support organisations with their own safeguarding work, and the expansion of the Safeguarding Case Management Service to help more organisations access expert support.

Good governance standards

Organisations will now be asked to implement and promote good governance standards, including with respect to diversity and inclusion, throughout their wider operations.

A good example of where this has already happened is The Football Association’s Code of Governance for County Football Associations, a regional Code which sets a high precedent and aims to upskill those running the grassroots game.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has also introduced a Governance Framework for its county game.

Impact on stakeholders, the environment and wider society

The Code will require boards to factor impact on stakeholders, the environment and wider society into their decisions and the actions implemented by their organisation.

This might be in relation to transport or procurement policies, or how facilities are developed, for example.

The full revised Code will be published in September, complete with guidance that will give more detail on each requirement.

Click on the links below to read the new and revised requirements, and to download the current Code, published in 2016.

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