Defining and identifying stakeholders in sports

The Code for Sports Governance defines a stakeholder as ‘any person or group (internally or externally) which has an interest in the organisation or is affected by its actions’. The range of stakeholders will vary from organisation to organisation depending on size, complexity, activities and other factors. Understanding who their stakeholders are is an important step for sports bodies to plan for and execute effective engagement with them. It is important to remember that stakeholder engagement should be effective for both the stakeholder and the organisation.

It is worthwhile to spend board time on identifying the organisation’s stakeholders as it will not only help in creating a prioritised stakeholder engagement strategy but will also ensure greater efficiency in terms of time, people and resources dedicated to those relationships. Board members should not, however, routinely take over the role of engagement, except with those groups to whom they have direct accountability – e.g. at AGMs, funding body contacts, etc.

The board could lead a mapping exercise to identify key stakeholders and the issues or activities which have the most material impact on each category. Stakeholders should be identified in terms of their influence over the organisation and their interest in its activities.

The groups identified will vary from organisation to organisation, but typical key stakeholders may include:


Members are undoubtedly the principal concern for the majority of sports organisations. The rights and powers of members are usually set out in the constitutional documents. However, in modern governance, this group has to take a wider view of what constitutes success for the organisation, and its views should be taken into account.

Players and

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