By Tom Degun

hr 2301January 23 - The anticipated merger of UK Sport and Sport England is officially off after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced today that it has begun the search for two new chairs for both organisations rather than one for both.

The joining of the two organisations was announced in 2010 when the Coalition Government came to power but the successful British performance at London 2012 forced a rethink.

However, there are still plans to move UK Sport and Sport England into a shared office block in 2014 and for them to share some back office services to help reduce administrative costs over the Spending Review period.

The two incoming individuals being sought by the DCMS will replace UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell and Sport England chair Richard Lewis, with both set to step down from their posts in the first quarter of this year.

After 10 years as UK Sport chairwoman, Baroness Campbell has reached the maximum term in line with requirements set for public appointments, with Lewis deciding to stand down as Sport England chair at the end of his first four-years because of the time constraints placed on him in his other role as Wimbledon chief executive.

The announcement was made by Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson (pictured top), who said the new chairs of UK Sport and Sport England must help keep up the momentum for sport at the elite end and at the grassroots respectively following the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The new chairs at UK Sport and Sport England will be tasked to keep up this momentum and work closely together to ensure a more joined up approach to sports administration so that from the grassroots to the elite, sport is in the best possible health," said Robertson.
Sue-CampbellBaroness Sue Campbell will step down as UK Sport chair after a maximum 10 years in the role

The Minister for Sport also praised the work down by Campbell and Lewis at UK Sport and Sport England respectively.

"Sue Campbell has led the transformation of elite sport in this country," he said.

"The results in both the Beijing and London Games were testament to UK Sport developing a system that helps athletes fulfil their potential and Sue deserves great credit for that.

"Richard Lewis has helped Sport England lay the foundations for an extremely strong sports legacy from London 2012.

"Under his leadership, participation levels in England have never been higher, the body has a clear direction of travel with its Youth and Community strategy, and its Places People Play programme is improving sports facilities up and down the country.

"Richard has been an excellent chair and I wish him all the best as he focuses on his key role at the All England Club."

UK Sport funding helped Team GB and ParalympicsGB helped Britain finish third in the medal tables at both the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics while they have already made clear their target for both to now win more medals at Rio 2016.

Meanwhile, Sport England has played a pivotal role in increasing sports participation since London won the bid to host the Games in 2005.

A record 15.5 million people are playing now sport once a week, up by 1.6 million on 2005 while in the last 12 months alone 750,000 more people are playing sport once a week.

Campbell has welcomed news.

"I welcome the Government's announcement today on realising the strategic benefits of the two organisations working closer together to deliver real and lasting benefits to British sport," she said.

"This outcome recognises the unique role that the two organisations fulfil in the sporting landscape at grassroots and elite level.

"I firmly believe that this is the best way forward and offers the most effective way to build on the incredible success of London 2012."

Lewis was equally pleased.
Richard LewisSport England chair Richard Lewis will step down as Sport England chair after four years to concentrate on his role as Wimbledon chief executive

"As a member of both Sport England and UK Sport's Boards, I can say that our organisations are collaborating more than ever before, particularly around ensuring that Sport England's considerable investment in talent development works seamlessly with UK Sport's elite funding," he explained.

"This cooperation will be made even smoother by plans to bring the two organisations together in one location next year.

"We will continue to explore all back office savings that can be made when this happens."

The Government intends to conduct a joint review of both organisations in 2014/15 as part of their rolling programme of reviews of non-departmental public bodies.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
December 2012: Exclusive - UK Sport and Sport England will undoubtedly work more closely in the future says Sports Minister
August 2012: Exclusive - Merger could be catalyst to make British sport work closer together claims Sir Keith Mills
February 2011: London 2012 deputy chairman to oversee merger of UK Sport and Sport England
October 2010: Exclusive - Merged sports body should be based outside "high rent" Central London says Robertson
October 2010: UK Sport and Sport England to be merged into one body - official