Sports Governance Conference

24 November 2017 | 9:30am–3:40pm | ICSA, Saffron House, London


Governance in sport is very much in the spotlight at the moment, what with heightened scrutiny around such issues as culture and welfare in sports organisations, and the implementation in April this year of the mandatory Sports Governance Code.

This new one-day conference offered a timely opportunity to assess how sports organisations are getting to grips with the challenges of good governance and considered the importance of good governance for securing the long-term health of the sector. We looked at the new Code and its provisions, and the ramifications of non-compliance, and discussed the importance of sports organisations taking a pro-active, rather than reactive, approach to the challenges they face. We also delved deeper into key issues such as safeguarding, increasing diversity and changing organisational culture.

The conference combined insights from a range of experts on the latest in governance thinking, and offered delegates an opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another.


09.30 Registration, tea/coffee

Chair’s opening remarks

Louise Thomson FCIS, Head of Policy (Not for Profit), ICSA


Keynote address: Duty of Care in Sport

At a time when UK sport bodies have been under intense scrutiny over bullying, child safeguarding and athlete welfare, the Duty of Care in Sport Review looks to address the need of sporting bodies to protect its participants effectively. Our speaker will review the impact of the findings and discuss what it means in practice for UK sporting bodies.

Annamarie Phelps CBE, Chair, British Rowing


Engaging with good governance

What do you need to assess when considering what good governance looks like? This session will look at main characteristics of good governance, from accountability to transparency and efficiency, and in doing so will examine how far the Code for Sports Governance goes in addressing them and what its implementation means for the long-term future of UK sport.

Emma Farlow, Governance Manager, UK Sport

Joy Johnston, Governance Manager, Sport England

Jonathan Hall, Sports Consultant and former Senior Executive Director, RFU and The FA

11.15 Networking tea and coffee break

Evaluating board performance

Board evaluations are vital to improving effectiveness and highlighting areas in need of improvement. From skills audits to reviewing practices, procedures, output and achievements, we will assess the different ways in which we can measure the strengths and capabilities of the board and the people that serve on them.

Alison Gill, Director, Bvalco


Managing conflicts of interest

Board members are legally obliged to act in the best interest of their organisations, declaring any outside interests that may affect their decision-making. This session will look at what constitutes a conflict of interest and how they can be managed appropriately.

Lorraine Young FCIS, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau


Stakeholder engagement

Communicating with stakeholders and building up a relationship ensures they feel valued and engaged with the activities of the organisation. In this session we will address how effective engagement increases trust and confidence between all parties, creating open dialogue that ensures the long-term sustainability of the organisation.

James Allen, Director of Policy, Governance & External Affairs, Sport & Recreation Alliance

13.00 Networking lunch

Boardroom dynamics

The way in which individuals interact on a board is key to its overall effectiveness. To ensure a healthy dynamic it is important to have a group that is able to work collaboratively towards common goals. Here, we will assess the challenges of creating cohesion whilst avoiding groupthink and ensuring that effective challenge is part of the decision-making process.

James Tickell, Partner, Campbell Tickell


Diversity from the grassroots to the boardroom

A wide range of perspectives, not merely token representation, is critical if boards are to deliver good governance. This session will look at how sporting bodies can promote equality and inclusion by improving the pipeline for talented individuals from grassroots level to the board.

Laura McAllister CBE, FSLW, Professor of Public Policy, Cardiff University


Future of Governance Forum

The next ICSA Future of Governance report will be released in 2018 and will focus on the sports sector. This session will give delegates a preview of some of the key themes in the report, including the effect of the Code for Sports Governance on the independence of sporting bodies as well as existing and future challenges around integrity, diversity and organisational culture. Delegates will also have the chance to have their say, and provide feedback to the authors on what they feel the biggest governance challenges in the sector are.

Craig Beeston, Policy Officer (Not for Profit), ICSA

15.40 Final remarks and close of conference

*This is a draft programme and may be subject to change


James Allen, Director of Policy, Governance & External Affairs, Sport & Recreation Alliance

James is the Director of Policy, Governance and External Affairs at the Sport and Recreation Alliance where he leads the organisation’s public affairs, policy and governance activity across the sport sector. James joined the Alliance, initially as Head of Policy, in 2013 from his previous role of Head of Public Services and Partnerships and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). James has worked in a variety of communications and policy roles in the private, public and voluntary sectors, holds a Masters degree in Public Policy and a Distinction in the ICSA Advanced Certificate in Sports Governance and Administration. He is also a Board Director of Sports Resolutions.

Craig Beeston, Policy Officer (NFP), ICSA

Craig is a Policy Officer at ICSA where he works on the not-for-profit sector, focusing on the Institute’s work on sports governance. He researches and produces guidance on aspects of governance in sports organisations and contributes to the Institute’s output on a range of related topics.

Prior to ICSA, Craig carried out published research into the methodology of international rankings of public service delivery for the ESRC and into blame management strategies employed by office-holders in times of crisis on a project funded by the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the LSE. He also worked for a number of years in research roles in the public sector.

Emma Farlow, Governance Manager, UK Sport

Emma has been a Governance Manager at UK Sport since 2014. UK Sport distributes National Lottery and Exchequer funds to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes and inspire the Nation through Olympic and Paralympic success. Emma’s work as a Governance Manager is to support the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and funded Partners in which UK Sport invests to achieve high standards of governance, and to drive and support world-leading standards of professional, organisational and ethical conduct, to positively impact on and support success. Together with Sport England, Emma was an integral member of the team involved in the drafting of the new Code for Sports Governance, compliance with which is mandatory for all sports organisations in receipt of public funding.

Alison Gill, Director, Bvalco

A psychologist by background, she works with Boards of Directors to strengthen relationships, enhance decision-making and improve Board effectiveness. She works extensively with FTSE100 Boards including most recently ABF plc, Barclays plc, BP plc, HSBC plc and JP Morgan Securities plc on non-executive and executive effectiveness as a reviewer, consultant, coach and facilitator.

Additionally, Alison acts as an advisor on matters of culture and behaviour. She was the independent advisor to British Rowing for their internal review of culture (2016); advisor on culture to the Salz Review of Barclays Bank (2013) and co-authored Annex 4 of The Walker Review of Banks and Other Financial Service Institutions (2009): Psychological and behavioural elements in Board performance. She is also currently co-lead tutor and Advisory Board Member of the Financial Times Non-Executive Director Diploma and an Advisory Board member for Governance Magazine.

Jonathan Hall, Sports Consultant and former Senior Executive Director, RFU and The FA

Jonathan has over 20 years’ experience in sport ranging from senior leadership roles in two large national sports governing bodies, The FA and the Rugby Football Union, to the commercial world of IMG. He entered the sports world after training as a lawyer at Cambridge University and US firm Baker & McKenzie.

He has first-hand experience of many of the key areas of running major sports governing bodies including the associated corporate and regulatory governance issues. He was Company Secretary of the RFU in the early days of professional rugby when the game’s governance was having to modernize and he was Director of Governance and then Director of Football Services at the FA for 11 years where he was responsible for all regulatory and governance issues associated with clubs, leagues and the rest of the game in England and closely involved with the structural review of The FA by Lord Burns in 2005.

More recently he has advised and helped British Judo lead its corporate governance changes and related compliance with the Code of Governance for UK sports. He is currently a consultant on a wide range of issues in sport and CEO of Techfront, an LED sports signage company.

Joy Johnston, Governance Manager, Sport England

Joy Johnston is currently Governance Manager at Sport England, Chief Referee for the Ice Hockey UK Referee Section, a Referee Supervisor and Instructor for the International Ice Hockey Federation and a Board Director for Ice Hockey UK and the English Ice Hockey Association. She holds a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sports Law and Practice from De Montfort University. She has previously held non-executive board level roles at Parkour UK, the London Youth Games and Baseball Softball UK.

Before moving to Sport England, Joy was Head of Governance and Quality at the EFL Trust where she was responsible for governance, risk management and strategic planning. She managed the delivery of the EFL Trust’s strategic and operational plans alongside being the national governance contact for 72 community club trusts.

Prior to joining the EFL Trust, Joy was Governance Manager at UK Sport. Her role was to work with a portfolio of funded National Governing Bodies to ensure that UK Sport's grant award processes reflected their obligation to further develop world class standards of governance in sport.

Between 2010 and 2013 she was Governance and Compliance Officer at the Sport and Recreation Alliance. In this role, Joy wrote the Voluntary Code of Good Governance for the Sport and Recreation Sector and established the Sport and Recreation Alliance Governance Stakeholder Group.

Laura McAllister CBE, FSLW, Professor of Public Policy, Cardiff University

Professor of Public Policy and the Governance of Wales at Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre. Expert on devolution, Welsh politics and elections, and gender representation and the feminisation of politics.

Former Chair of Sport Wales, board member of UK Sport and Football Association of Wales Trust. Former Wales international player and captain with 24 caps. Member of UEFA Women’s Football Committee. Non-Executive Director of executive search firm, Goodson Thomas Ltd. Fellow of Learned Society of Wales. Chair of Expert Panel on Electoral Reform.

Former member of Assembly Remuneration Board, Independent Panel on AMs Pay and Support, Richard Commission on the Powers and Electoral Arrangements for the National Assembly for Wales.

Annamarie Phelps CBE, Chair, British Rowing

Annamarie Phelps CBE is Chairman of British Rowing, Vice Chair of the BOA and BPA. She chaired the Cycling Independent Review Panel into the culture and climate of the sport’s World Class Programme and was a member of the DCMS Duty of Care Report Working Group.

As Deputy Chairman and Lead Safeguarding Officer at British Rowing 2002-2013, she oversaw anti-doping, governance and equality policies. She has supported the S&RA Safeguarding Adults in Sport Steering Group since its inception in 2008 and is Safeguarding, SEN and Looked After Children Governor at Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith.

A former World Champion in Women’s Lightweight Coxless Fours and indoor rowing, she represented Great Britain in the women’s eight at the Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996.

Louise Thomson FCIS, Head of Policy (Not for Profit), ICSA

Louise is Head of Policy (Not-for-Profit) at ICSA. Louise has worked at ICSA since 2001 where she is responsible for promoting, supporting, representing and developing the profession within the not-for-profit and public sectors. She has produced codes of governance for not-for-profit organisations and NHS clinical commissioning groups, research documents in NHS governance, guidance notes and best practice guides relating to governance, compliance and administration, and highlighting the pivotal role the company secretary plays in any organisation.

Louise has 20 years experience of working in, and with, charitable and NHS organisations and has gathered valuable insight into the governance challenges facing boardrooms as a charity trustee, school governor and pension trustee.

James Tickell, Partner, Campbell Tickell

James is a Partner at Campbell Tickell and has been with the company since 2004. During this period, he has carried out a wide range of assignments throughout the UK. These have focused on governance, mergers and groups, regulatory issues, executive and non-executive recruitment, performance improvement, communications and strategy.

James’ work has included working as Interim CEO of Shaftesbury Housing Group for some 14 months while the organisation was in supervision and numerous governance reviews, board appraisal exercises, awaydays, strategic planning exercises and scenario planning. As well as this, his work has seen him writing editions of ‘Learning from Problem Cases’ for the Housing Corporation and then the Homes and Communities Agency; the Charity Commission’s flagship guidance for Trustees; the 2015 revision of the NHF Governance code, and also the NCVO Code of Governance for the voluntary sector.

Previously, James was the Deputy Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, a position he held for 10 years. Before joining the Federation, he was the Registrar of the Housing Corporation. James has served as a Board member of several housing associations, including as a Housing Corporation appointee to the Board of an organisation in supervision.

Lorraine Young FCIS, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau

Lorraine began her co sec career in financial services before becoming company secretary at Brambles Industries plc, a dual listed company in the FTSE 100. She was involved in acquisitions and disposals, bid defence, overseas Board visits, directors’ induction and continuing professional development, complex international share plans and promoting clear communication to shareholders and employees.

The next challenge Lorraine took on, in 2003, was to set up her own company secretarial and corporate governance practice which provided advisory services for a range of clients. These services included governance and Board effectiveness reviews; providing advice and training; Board and committee meeting support; preparation for general meetings and drafting reports and other documents; as well as ensuring compliance with statutory requirements.

In 2016, Lorraine merged her practice with the co sec team at Shakespeare Martineau LLP, where she is now a partner and continues with her advisory work. She writes a regular technical update column for Governance & Compliance magazine.

Lorraine is a Non-Executive Director of PHSC plc and City of London Group plc, both listed on AIM. She is also a Past President of ICSA, the Governance Institute.

Lorraine qualified as a Company Secretary in 1990, attaining Fellowship in 1996.


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How to book


Sector organisations: £240 +VAT

Non-sector organisations: £365 +VAT


This conference took place on 24 November


Saffron House
6-10 Kirby Street


contact us using the online form or phone: 020 7612 7032

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