Governance in Sport: Part II


I have been writing a blog series on the subject of ‘governance in sports clubs, federations and organisations’.

This is the second of a four part series.

Click here to check out the first blog

The focus of this blog will concentrate on the role of the Board and its members within a sports organisation.

Many of my comments relate to my experience on government boards as well as my role of chair at Netball Northern Ireland.

What is the role of the Board in a sports organisation?

For me the role of the Board is as follows:

– Ownership of the strategic plan. It is likely that the full-time staff will suggest the key strategic priorities as well as lead on the implementation of the various goals/objectives but it is the Boards responsibility to have a strategic plan in place and to ensure it is monitored throughout the year.

– Ensure the correct financial management procedures and reports are in place.  This includes having clearly defined and written financial procedures in place and followed. In addition, annual budgets should be in place alongside monthly income and expenditure reports presented to the Board.

– Ensure the relevant policies and procedures are in place. A well governed sports organisation will have a number of relevant policies and procedures in place. These ensure the organisation can deal with any issues in a clear and open way.

– Manage potential risks – the Board should identify potential risks and identify ways to mitigate the risks.

– Recruit the General Secretary or CEO. It is the role of the board to recruit the GS/CEO, evaluate the performance of the GS/CEO and to set their annual KPIs.

– A Board member should set the standard expected as well as to live out the values of the sports organisation.

– The Board should challenge and support the organisational staff when papers are presented to the board. Papers should not be taken at face value.  Board members should challenge or support and approve key papers presented by staff or sub committees.

– The Board should put in place the relevant sub committees.  These committees should delve deeper into key areas such as audit and risk, commercial, competition, technical etc. The sub committee membership should involve the relevant Board members and provide a platform to debate the key areas in greater detail before coming to the board for a final decision or approval.


– Recruit a competency based Board. Identify what skills are needed on the Board and ensure the right people are recruited

– Hold regular Board meetings. I would suggest a minimum of ten per year

– Ensure a risk register is produced and reviewed on a regular basis by the Board

– Implement a number of key sub committees which will delve deeper into specific areas ie audit and risk committee, income committee, technical committee, competitions/league committee etc

– Assign a minimum of one Board member to be part of a sub committee

– Ensure monthly financial reports are in place. In addition, ensure annual budget is approved by the Board

– Recruit a CEO /GS who has the correct skills and knowledge to move the organisation forward

– Provide regular training for Board members ie role of the Board, conflict of interest training etc.  As part of this activity, a skill register, which should be audited annually, should be in place

– Introduce an Induction process for new Board members.  In addition, ensure succession planning is in place (particularly for those Boards with time limits for members)


About Geoff Wilson

Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA, AFC and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson connect on Linkedin at


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