British Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has praised the way national governing bodies have responded in working to become compliant with the new Code for Sports Governance ©Gov.UK

British Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has praised the way national governing bodies have worked to become compliant with the new Code for Sports Governance.

Crouch announced her plan for the new code in the Government’s sport strategy "Sporting Future" in December 2015, a move aimed at ensuring that sports governing bodies in the UK lead the world with the highest levels of governance and transparency.

The code was published by Sport England and UK Sport in October 2016 with governing bodies working with the two organisations to become compliant by October 31, 2017.

It comes amid a turbulent time for national governing bodies (NGBs) within Britain, with British Cycling among those who have been the subject of intense scrutiny.

It is claimed, however, that significant progress is being made, with 50 sports bodies including British Cycling, the Football Association (FA), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) all having plans already agreed on how they will become compliant.

"I am really pleased with how governing bodies have responded to the introduction of the code," Crouch said.

"I appreciate for many sports this is not an easy task, due to the complexities of current governance structures, but virtually all of them have stepped up, understand the importance of this work and have changes in the pipeline that will collectively strengthen sport in this country.

"Good governance and transparency in sport is absolutely paramount - not just for effective decision making but to increase diversity, maintain sport’s integrity and ensure millions of sport fans have complete faith in those that run sport."

British Cycling is one of the main NGBs under scrutiny regarding its governance ©Getty Images
British Cycling is one of the main NGBs under scrutiny regarding its governance ©Getty Images

Last week, British Cycling avoided the threat of potentially losing public funding from Sport England and UK Sport by voting to amend its governance structure at its recent Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).

A failure to pass the reform measures would have thrown their chances of receiving £43 million ($57 million/€48 million) in funding into jeopardy.

A 75 per cent majority was required at the EGM, but it emerged beforehand that three of 10 regional groups had opposed the measures, suggesting the organisation might fail to pass the measures.

However, British Cycling stated the reforms have been passed, with an amendment which will create a Board place nominated by their 10 English regions.

The passing of the reforms, which included the election of an independent chairman and limiting directors to three three-year terms, came as a relief to British Cycling.

The organisation’s President Bob Howden had claimed without funding the sport "could be lost to an entire generation".

With regard to other organisations, the FA's Board, Council and shareholders have agreed to reduce the Board in size from 12 to 10 members.

They have also introduced term limits of three lots of three years for both the Board and the FA Council and strived to ensure that the inclusive and diverse nature of English football is better reflected.

The LTA agreed all article changes to become compliant with the code in May, including reducing Council term limits and confirming the primacy of the Board as the decision-making body.

The RFU has formed an action plan that includes making changes to the composition of the Board, including ensuring primacy of the Board and the introduction of maximum term limits for Council members.

The proposals are to be formally presented to the Council in October.

The ECB, meanwhile, has committed to reducing the size of its Board and ensuring its appointment process and term limits of directors are compliant with the code.

It has also initiated its own governance review in an attempt to ensure that it is best in class for sports bodies.

"Our funded sports, in receipt of support from Government and The National Lottery, have all embraced the new code for sport governance, with 100 per cent of the summer Olympic and Paralympic sports with funded World Class Programmes having agreed detailed action plans with us to be compliant by October," UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl said.

"The changes that are required do present some challenges as they represent a transformational step up for sports governance in this country.

"It's time to focus energy on the opportunity to develop a modern sporting system that can grow and adapt to the challenges of the 21st century."

UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl has said the changes required present some challenges ©Getty Images
UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl has said the changes required present some challenges ©Getty Images

If sports bodies do not adhere to the code and cannot demonstrate full commitment to becoming compliant with its requirements they will not be eligible to receive public funding.

Governance requirements include greater transparency and increased skills and diversity in decision making - with a target of at least 30 per cent gender diversity on boards - and a commitment to greater diversity more generally.

Another requirement is constitutional arrangements that make boards the ultimate decision-makers.

The changes have been described as marking the single, biggest collective step forward in sports governance in the UK, and will set a template for global best practice.

"Implementation of the code has been a huge undertaking but we are very pleased with the progress NGBs have made," Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said.

"A lot of change is now happening in a relatively short period of time.

"Despite the hard work involved, sports bodies have embraced the code, recognising that better governance means better decision making, and have welcomed the chance to bring their business processes in line with best practice in other sectors.

"We think these changes will pay off for years to come, with British sport leading the world."

It is claimed progress is also being made throughout Olympic and Paralympic sport governing bodies.

This includes British Gymnastics having strong gender diversity on its Board, with 50 per cent of it female, and changing articles to ensure the sport is code compliant.

The articles are due to be agreed at its Annual General Meeting in October.

The Royal Yachting Association Board has committed to implementing the code in full and "create a world class solution"  to its governance.

Boccia UK already adheres to the majority of the code with 43 per cent of its Board being female.

The sport is said to be committed to improving transparency through better communication of how it operates.

Earlier this month, Table Tennis England chairman Sandra Deaton warned the future of the governing body is "at risk" after they lost access to £9 million ($12 million/€10 million) in Sport England funding following a narrow failure to pass their reforms.

Deaton also hit out at "individuals with their own agendas" after they fell 0.07 per cent short of the 75 per cent figure.

Table Tennis England has called an EGM for August 12 to consider its Board’s proposal on governance changes to become code compliant.

The British Mountaineering Council is undertaking an independent governance review and Sport England intends to continue to work with them to agree an action plan.

Last week, it was confirmed that Clare Salmon had resigned as the chief executive of the British Equestrian Federation.

She had been claimed to have raised "significant and serious concerns" about culture and governance.

Salmon, who was appointed in February 2016, has raised issues which have culminated in the setting up of an "independent investigation".