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The future of the SGA

SGA Programme Manager, Craig Beeston, on the recent announcement on the future of the SGA.

Date: 7th Dec 2022

Author: Craig Beeston, SGA Programme Manager, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland

The story so far...

The SGA has just come to the end of its third year. In that time – which has passed with surprising speed – solid foundations have been laid and we have been delighted with the way in which the sector has embraced the project and with the appetite it has shown for governance development. The past few years have represented a time of considerable change for the sport and physical activity sector, stemming from a number of reasons, positive and negative – from the game-changing implementation of the Code for Sports Governance to the shocks and stresses of the pandemic. The landscape has shifted and the governance expectations placed on the sector have grown.

“In recent years, there have been great improvements in governance across the sector. In the face of constant change and challenge, we must all continue to maintain high standards in this area to strengthen decision making and build healthier, more inclusive and more resilient organisations.”

Rob Morini, Head of Sporting System, UK Sport

The aim of the SGA from the outset was to help to improve the standard of governance in sport and physical activity organisations and help them respond to the growing challenges and opportunities the sector faces. From the beginning, the partnership between The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland and Sport England was based on a shared commitment to championing good governance and a common goal to develop those who work in the sector in order to help their organisations to succeed.

“Encouraging effective and accountable leadership will help underpin a trusted, vibrant sports sector where talent can flourish at every level.”

Sara Drake, Chief Executive, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland

Over the past three years, the SGA community has grown to over a thousand members, drawn from around 520 organisations up and down the country, from the smallest to the largest. Over 400 places on our courses have been taken up, offering training on the Code and general principles of good governance as well as specific skills in chairing and minute taking. Fourteen sections of our knowledge base have been published, providing guidance on topics from effective meetings to safeguarding and welfare, supplemented by over 60 tools, templates and other supporting materials.

And crucially, we have looked to bring the sector together. Governance in sport can sometimes seem like a lonely place. But in fact, there is a community of people out there who are experiencing similar challenges. Moreover, the sports sector is a remarkably giving one, in terms of its people sharing their time and their experience. The SGA has benefited enormously from that. So, key to the success of the SGA is getting people into the same space to connect and to pool their knowledge. Largely this has been done online so far, for obvious reasons. Last month, however, we finally brought our annual conference to a physical environment, with 100 people coming to Manchester and joining the 240 who had signed up for virtual access to what turned out to be a fantastic day.


The Future...

At that conference, we were able to deliver some great news - the SGA will be continuing for another five years.

Sport England has agreed long-term investment of £1.8m with CGIUKI, the leading cross-sectoral authority on governance in the UK, to deliver the SGA until 2027, underlining their joint commitment to helping organisations in the sector to improve their governance, promote high standards of accountability and integrity and become more transparent, diverse and inclusive. This is fantastic news and allows us to build on what has been done so far.

Yet the good news didn’t end there. As we announced the continuation of the SGA, we were joined on stage by representatives of all the Home Country Sports Councils - Sport England, UK Sport, sportscotland, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Wales - in a brilliant demonstration of their shared commitment to coming together and coming on board with the SGA to collaborate as partners on making it the universal point of access for governance support in the sector.

“With all the Sports Councils joining forces for the first time, there is now a unified view from them on where organisations in the sector can go for governance support.”

Jeanette Bain-Burnett, Director of Policy & Integrity, Sport England

The SGA has focused to date on helping to embed the Code for Sports Governance. We will continue to do this. However, we will also be incorporating support for the governance codes and frameworks from across the UK into our training and resource library. While we all appreciate the specific governance documents and legal frameworks relevant to organisations in the individual countries, we are of the view that good governance is good governance. Its principles apply across the various jurisdictions and our aim is to share, to collaborate and to inculcate a culture of good governance that goes beyond compliance.

To do this, we will be listening to the sector and working closely with the Sports Councils. We will also be collaborating with other providers of governance support in the sector, sometimes to create resources, other times to point users in the direction of superb content that is produced elsewhere. In doing so, we have taken on board the voices we have heard, asking for ease of navigation.

There is a lot of talent in the sports sector and some great work being undertaken. We want to provide a gateway for cross-sector engagement, not only learning from other sectors, but also celebrating the things being done well and better in this one.

The SGA will continue to build on the resources we have developed so far. We will also be adding some new, exciting features.

  • CGIUKI’s Certificate in Sports Governance will be redeveloped and offered to the SGA audience. This too comes in response to what the community has told us they would value: an upskilling of the governance workforce and the demonstration of its knowledge and competencies. The SGA audience will be able to access the certificate in its entirety and its component modules.
  • A peer-to-peer mentoring scheme which will offer benefits to both the mentor and the mentee as well as connecting alumni of the scheme.

Both of these additions will be developed around CGIUKI’s Competency Framework, which maps the core competencies of governance leads to a defined trajectory for professional development. This allows for pathways to continuous learning. These new offerings will begin delivery in late 2023.

So the SGA will be growing in scope, size and geographical reach. These are exciting developments and we hope you’ll join us along the way. Our calls to action for you are to:

  • Spread the word – encourage your colleagues to register and take advantage of our support. The wider our audience, the greater the impact we can have on the sector.
  • Get involved – share your own experiences, join the Huddle, come to our events. Maybe write a blog or essay for us. Or just tell us what support you value.

Remember, the SGA is powered by the sector.

“The Sports Governance Academy is a welcome sign of further progress in developing a strong sporting culture across the sector and we encourage organisations to register and utilise the services available.”

Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive, Sport Northern Ireland

Find out more about our partners and why they are involved in delivering the SGA.