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The impact of the Voluntary Code of Governance: A report from the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre for the Sport and Recreation Alliance

Dr Geoff Walters and Dr Richard Tacon from the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre recently completed a report on behalf of the Sport and Recreation Alliance looking at the impact of the Voluntary Code of Governance for the Sport and Recreation Sector. The Voluntary Code was launched in 2011 by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, following consultation with national governing bodies of sport, county sports partnerships, Sport England, UK Sport, the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations, and SkillsActive. The Code, which drew on best practice guidelines from the for-profit and non-profit sectors, was designed to assist board members and senior managers of sport organisations in the UK to better understand governance in general and their governance roles in particular. 2014 saw the launch of an updated, second edition of the Code.

Nearly 100 sport and recreation organisations have signed up to the Code’s seven principles to date, which include committing to implementing a balanced and inclusive board, and creating a culture of complete accountability and transparency. The Sport and Recreation Alliance, which represents 320 sport and recreation bodies across the UK, such as The FA, LTA, RFU and ECB, commissioned Birkbeck to carry out an independent study on the impact the Voluntary Code of Good Governance has had on the organisations that signed up to it and made a commitment to good governance. It shows positive commitment made by the sports bodies to bring about organisational and cultural change. Key findings include:

  • 90 per cent of respondents reported that their organisations are working towards some, or all, of the principles in the Code.
  • 95 per cent of respondents stated that the board has been either very supportive or supportive when implementing the Code.
  • 77 per cent of respondents reported that the implementation of aspects of the Code has had a positive impact on their governance.
  • 94 per cent of respondents stated that the Code had been either effective or very effective in identifying good practice.
  • 95 per cent of respondents stated that the Code had been either effective or very effective in assisting good governance.

Emma Boggis, Chief Executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said:

“We’ve been promoting, co-ordinating and supporting implementation of the Code for over three years now, and thought it was time to take a step back and measure how much of an impact it was making to bringing about a much needed step change in governance practices across the sector. We also refreshed the Code at in November 2014, creating a second edition which reflected the progress made and changes in the sporting landscape.

“It has been making a real impact, as sports organisations have found it easy to adopt and implement. It hasn’t been imposed but embraced, as sport and recreation bodies take ownership of their governance and use the framework to strengthen their organisations.

“We know that it’s a big task to totally transform governance across the sector, but our findings show that the commitment is now there amongst a huge amount of organisations.”

For more information see the Sport and Recreation Alliance website

Copies of the executive summary of the report are available for download

 

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