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Sports told to bring in more women if they want public funding

Laura Kenny, Joanna Rowsell-Shand, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker

British Cycling has benefited from the funds, earning unprecedented success in recent Olympics, with Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell-Shand among the gold medallists in Rio

Sporting governing bodies must bring in more women or lose public funding, UK Sport and Sport England have warned.

Under the new ‘Code for Sports Governance’, organisations must adhere to “gold standards” of transparency, accountability and financial integrity.

The code sets out a target of at least 30% gender diversity on boards.

“If sport wants to be publicly funded, it must reflect the public it serves,” said the chief executive of Women in Sport, Ruth Holdaway.

She said the code sent that message “loud and clear”.

The code calls for:

  • Increased skills and diversity in decision-making, with a target of at least 30% gender diversity on boards
  • Greater transparency, for example publishing more information on the structure, strategy and financial position of the organisation
  • Constitutional arrangements that give boards the prime role in decision-making

The new code applies to governing bodies who ask for UK government and National Lottery funding from April 2017.

UK Sport predicts changes in practice should be in evidence by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It is vital that our domestic sports bodies and organisations uphold the very highest standards of governance and lead the world in this area,” sports minister Tracey Crouch said.

Who benefits from the funding at present?

Both UK Sport and Sport England allocate money from the government and National Lottery to grassroots initiatives, clubs, charities, local authorities and national governing bodies.

Sport England is investing £493m into 46 sports between 2013 and 2017 while UK Sport has invested about £350m in the same period.

The Football Association is among the many recipients and will receive £30m from Sport England during the period 2013-2017.

However, the sports minister warned the FA earlier this year that it would be stripped of further funding unless it made changes to its governance.

The FA has just one woman on its board, independent non-executive director Dame Heather Rabbatts, who has been left “frustrated” and “disappointed” at its failure to implement reform.

However, FA chairman Greg Clarke welcomed the new code, saying: “It will rightly protect public investment in sport by ensuring that transparency, controls and financial probity are a prerequisite for all organisations in receipt of government money.”

British Cycling, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Lawn Tennis Association, UK Athletics and UK Gymnastics are other recipients of funding, along with many Olympic and Paralympic sports.

What will governing bodies have to do now?

UK Sport’s chief operating officer Simon Morton told BBC Sport: “This code includes over 50 requirements that sporting organisations in receipt of public funding will now have to implement.

“It will take different times for every single organisation. They all have different constitutions in place, so we’ll agree bespoke timescales.

“But certainly as we move into the next funding cycle, which will start from 2017 onwards, they’ll need to be compliant with these standards.

“Sports bodies have already done well in governance terms, but there’s a huge amount of public funding going into sport and the key message is [for them] to justify the funding, give the public confidence that the governance of sport is right.”

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The importance of UK Sport and Sport England funding has been demonstrated by GB’s success at recent Olympic Games

How has the new code come about?

The government announced a new code would be developed in its Sporting Future strategy, published in December 2015.

In response, UK Sport and Sport England embarked on a consultation period with governing bodies and found strong support for higher standards of governance.

Of the more than 200 organisations consulted, 98% backed a drive for greater transparency and 78% agreed on the need for increased diversity.

“There have been significant improvements in standards of governance, which is to be welcomed, but there is still much to do,” Sport England chair Nick Bitel said.

“Diversity in sports sector boardrooms is still an issue and requires a mandatory code to achieve sustainable change.”

UK Sport chairman Rod Carr added: “We are confident that despite the recent historic successes at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we can be even stronger as a high-performance system with better representation and more openness.

“This is also about encouraging more diversity into leadership positions in sport, and I fully expect to see a broad range of talent coming in to key roles during the Tokyo cycle.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/37823821