British sports organisations which fail to meet tough new governance standards will find it harder to get Government funding from next year.
The 64-page Code for Sports Governance will apply to any organisation which wants a slice of the £450m-plus invested annually by Sport England and UK Sport, the agencies which allocate funding for grassroots and elite sport respectively.
The code, which was first mooted last December, sets out rules for accountability and leadership, with a gender diversity target for boards of at least 30 per cent.
Sports minister Tracey Crouch said: “It is vital our domestic sports bodies uphold the very highest standards of governance and lead the world in this area.
“We want to ensure they operate efficiently and successfully while being transparent and representative of society.
“We have been clear that we will expect them to adhere to the new code for sports governance if they are to receive public funding in the future.”
Crouch singled out the Football Association in July when she warned the governing body it could lose more than £30m of funding if it failed to reform.
The FA’s 12-strong board complies with much of the code but only has one female director, Heather Rabbatts, while the FA’s council has long been a source of government frustration.
Supposed to operate as football’s parliament, the council is dominated by representatives from the county FAs and other historic stakeholders, such as the armed forces and Oxbridge, with the vast majority of its members being male and white.
But the FA is far from alone in having work to do by April if it is to continue to receive public money.
Of the major governing bodies, only British Athletics currently meets the gender diversity target, while directors from the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are conspicuous by their absence, as are directors with disabilities.
Sally Hancock, the chair of the Women In Sport campaign group, said her organisation was “pleased to see” the Government formally adopting the 30 per cent target and welcomed it as “a significant step towards improving and sustaining standards for gender balance in the sector”.
The code is based on five “basic principles of good governance” – structure, people, communication, standards and conduct, and policies and processes – and is divided into three tiers which relate to the size of the organisation and the amount of funding it wants.
Large organisations that want grants of more than £1m for ongoing projects will be expected to meet more requirements, while smaller bodies looking for less than £250,000 on a one-off basis will have fewer hurdles to get over.