Codes for Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

Governance and Leadership Framework for Wales

In late 2014, Sport Wales and the Sport and Recreation Alliance began to facilitate a move by Welsh governing bodies to create a structured programme of leadership and governance development. Following six months of consultation with over 50 National Governing Bodies (NGBs), a framework was produced and published in April 2015. This sets out what Sport Wales believes to be the minimum standard of governance and the expected leadership behaviours of those running sports in the country.

The Framework is designed to be flexible, simple and not prescriptive. It provides the principles of good governance, effective behaviours, practical recommendations and minimum expectations for sports organisations in Wales.

Unlike the Code for Sports Governance, the Framework is not mandatory. However, by signing up to it, bodies will be making a long-term commitment to aspire to good governance and leadership and to integrate the principles and behaviours across their organisation. It is left to each individual organisation as to how to implement the principles of the Framework and develop them.

This means acting as guardians of the sport, recreation, activity or area. The board must uphold the highest standards of integrity not only in what it does but also in the wider environment of its sport, recreation, activity or area.

The board needs to understand and evaluate the role it plays and the way it contributes to the organisation.

The board should set the strategy and vision of the organisation and ensure that it is followed without becoming involved in the operational delivery.

The board should be balanced, inclusive and skilled. It should be made up of individuals with the right balance of skills, knowledge and experience to meet the needs of the organisation. This includes independent expertise and representation of the diversity of the sport and the communities that the organisation serves.

The board needs to be conscious of the standards it should operate to, and of its role in exercising appropriate and effective control of the organisation.

The board needs to be open and accountable to its athletes, participants and members, and its actions should stand up to scrutiny.

The board needs to be aware of the international and domestic sporting environment and position its organisation appropriately.

Sport Wales and the Sport and Recreation Alliance developed an online support programme including guidance, toolkits and workshops to help embed the principles and behaviours in organisations.

Northern Ireland Code of Good Governance for the voluntary and community sector

There is no specific governance guidance for sports organisations based in Northern Ireland. However, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has produced the Code of Good Governance for the voluntary and community Sector (NI Code), which can be applied to grass-roots sports organisations.

The NI Code was reviewed in 2014 with a revised code launched in 2016 by the Developing Governance Group. The Code is widely accepted in the country as the set of standards for governance in the voluntary and community sector.

The revised NI Code now contains five overarching principles, each deliberately broad and generic so that organisations of any size or type can use it.

The NI Code says that an effective board will provide good governance and leadership by:

  • Understanding its role and responsibilities
  • Working well both as individuals and as a team
  • Ensuring delivery of organisational purpose
  • Exercising appropriate control
  • Behaving with integrity and being open and accountable

There are a number of complementary practical resources to help your organisation apply and implement the NI Code. These include a ‘governance health check’ and a Sports Governance Guide.

Scottish Governing Bodies Governance Framework

Scotland’s sports council, sportscotland, produced the Scottish Governing Bodies Governance Framework (SGB Framework) to ensure that the relationship between performance, development and good governance is fully integrated strategically and operationally and that investment decisions are based on robust plans with a clear focus on agreed outcomes.

sportscotland states that the overarching aim of the SGB Framework is:

To enhance governance in Scottish Governing Bodies (SGB)s, ensuring they are well led; robust and legally compliant; and are effective and efficient in their operations, fostering strong partnerships. SGBs will be investment ready, positioned for growth and best placed to deliver outcomes for the sport. They will provide real results and return on investment to their members, sportscotland and other strategic partners.

The principles for SGBs in Scotland to adhere to are as follows:


  1. Commitment to implementing the Nolan Principles
  2. Commitment to continuous improvement
  3. Strategic planning framework
  4. Appropriate board composition
  5. Succession planning

Robust organisation

  1. Effective performance management systems
  2. Clear roles and responsibilities
  3. Legally compliant
  4. Effective control environment
  5. Appropriate operational structure

Strong networks

  1. Positive relations and partnerships
  2. Proactive GB and home country engagement

Next: Other useful sports codes and principles