Press releases 12 May 2016

New Governance Code will ensure highest levels of transparency in British sport

Charter for Sports Governance in the UK published

UK sports bodies and organisations that want to receive public funding will have to adhere to a new Code of Governance to help ensure that the highest levels of transparency, ethical standards and leadership are present across sport in this country.

Charter for Sports Governance in the United Kingdom has been published today that outlines some of the main themes that will feature in the code that will be finalised later this year and come into effect in 2017.

While governance in the publicly funded sport sector in the UK is already at a good standard the Code, being drawn up by UK Sport and Sport England, will build on this further. It will be ambitious and set high expectations for any sports organisation that wants to be in receipt of public funding. This will not only protect that investment but also help good organisations become exceptional.

Minister for Sport David Evennett said:

“Sport has a unique power that improves the lives of millions of people in the UK so it is only right that we do all we can to ensure that sport bodies uphold the highest levels of governance and integrity.”

“Governance in publicly funded sport is at a good standard in this country but we cannot be complacent. The new code will mean a more consistent approach so that organisations know exactly what is expected. Sport bodies have to be accountable for the public money they receive and we are absolutely clear that those that do not adhere to the new code will not receive public funds in the future.”

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said:

“Public trust is something that needs to be earned, so it’s essential that organisations receiving public funding meet the highest standards of integrity and governance. We already set the bar high in the UK, but the charter being published today and the detailed code that will follow it will challenge sports bodies in the UK to become some of the best governed in the world.”

UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said:

“The Charter published today shows our commitment to developing a new Governance Code for sport in the UK to promote continuous improvement in the sport sector.”

“We expect and encourage all the sports we work with and invest into to be responsible and accountable while adhering to the highest ethical and professional standards in delivering Olympic and Paralympic success.The Code will build on the many existing examples of sound governance and exceptional leadership, while continuing to drive excellence and protect the integrity of British sport.”

The main elements in the Charter that will form the basis of the code are:


Organisations must be clear to both stakeholders and the public about why they exist, what their strategy is and how they are structured with annual reports and accounts published with transparency around all public funding.


Organisations must demonstrate that they have adequate measures in place to protect against sport manipulation. Those holding senior positions of office will sign a declaration stating that they are of ‘good character,’ defined through the use of objective criteria, and that they have the skills and experience for their role.

Financial probity

Organisations must be fully accountable for their use of public funding, accounting for every penny and demonstrating how it has been used to achieve the purpose for which it was given.

Leadership and decision-making

Organisations must have fit-for-purpose boards and the code will, in some cases, look to build on existing requirements such as term limits and the size of boards. The code will look to ensure best practice in decision-making.


Organisations with membership bases will have to ensure that healthy democracy exists. Further consultation will be undertaken to identify best practice in how governing bodies should engage with their members.

Independence of thought

Organisations’ decision-making bodies must include a sufficient number of people who are free from a close connection to the organisation and who provide constructive challenge.

There will also be a consultation on increasing independence on sports boards. This will include looking at whether the existing requirement of a minimum of 25% of independent board members should be increased as well as looking at a possible new requirement for independent chairs.


Organisations must have diversity in their leadership, decision making and throughout their workforce. The target for women on boards (or men where they are the underrepresented group) will increase from a minimum of 25% to 30%.

There will also be a consultation on the introduction of other specific targets (including for BAME and disability representation on boards) and guaranteed interview schemes for under-represented groups.


The code will also look to ensure that there is a good organisational culture in sports organisations to help them achieve optimum performance.

Sport England and UK Sport will work together to support sport organisations that want to be eligible for public funding to achieve the requirements of the Governance Code for Sport in the UK.


• This press release was originally published by the UK Department for Culture, Media & Sport on 12 May 2016. To access the original, please click here.

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