Sports Governance Principles and Resources

Sports Governance Principles and Resources       
Prepared by  Prepared by: Chris Hume and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Sport Australia
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Dr Denis Mowbray, Director, Gryphon Management Consultants (November 2017) and Mark McAllion, former CEO, Vicsport (December 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 18 April 2019
Please refer to the Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer page for
more information concerning this content.

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Good governance is widely acknowledged as being an attribute of successful organisations with proven track records of sustaining and delivering high quality outcomes.

While good governance does not guarantee success, its absence almost certainly guarantees failure. Mr John Wylie AM; Chairman of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), Canberra, 19 March, 2013


Key Messages 


Effective governance structures and practices are essential for the success of a sporting organisation.


Individuals need to ensure they understand the roles and responsibilities of the position they hold.


Sports receiving Australian Government funding may be required to meet mandatory governance standards.

Governance is the system by which organisations are directed and managed. It influences how the objectives of the organisation are set and achieved, spells out the rules and procedures for making organisational decisions, and determines the means of optimising and monitoring performance, including how risk is monitored and assessed.

Governance concerns three key issues:

  • how an organisation develops strategic goals and direction
  • how the board of an organisation monitors the performance of the organisation to ensure it achieves these strategic goals, has effective systems in place, and complies with its legal and regulatory obligations
  • ensuring that the board acts in the best interests of the members. 

[source: Sports Governance Principles (PDF  - 303 KB). Australian Sports Commission, (March 2012)]

Implementing and maintaining good governance practices leads to more consistent and ethical decision making; promotes confidence and engagement with organisational stakeholders; and ensures the organisation meets its legislative responsibilities.  

Adherence to good governance principles and practices is important for all Australian sport sector organisations, and particularly for organisations that are dependent on government funding.

  • For the good of the game: Gideon Haigh on sports governanceAICD, (8 February 2017). In a market more fickle than ever, sporting boards are under pressure to deliver growth, while maintaining the integrity of their game. Gideon Haigh, one of Australia’s pre-eminent writers on sport and business, talks about the unique governance challenges facing sporting organisations.
  • FFA needs to be more representative and grow game as critical time looms, Michael Lynch, Sydney Morning Herald, (4 February 2017). The Crawford report into Australian soccer, overseen by the prominent Melbourne businessman David Crawford, was the spark that fanned the flames of football's 21st century revolution.
  • Australia's sporting bodies: big bucks and the same old facesThe Guardian, (29 July 2016). In a major essay for the Griffith Review on sports governance, Gideon Haigh finds that despite a demanding fan base and TV money supporting multimillion-dollar businesses, much of Australian sport still relies on a ‘curious mix of cosy privilege and noblesse oblige’
  • Sports Governance [audio], ABC Radio National, (29 August 2016). How should we fund sporting organisations, who should run them, and are they the reasons behind Australia's controversial performance at the Olympics? Sports writer Gideon Haigh explains. 
  • Why administrators need to be better than the athletes, [paywall], Patrick Smith, The Australian, (18 June 2016). The Australian sporting community has learnt much from Melbourne Storm’s salary cap rorting and the Essendon and Cronulla crazy-but-unconscionable experiments with drugs. These controversies introduced the word governance to the sporting lexicon. From the reactions of so many it seemed the word meant nothing. Governance? Which race is it in? 

In 2002, Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission), the Australian Government agency responsible for providing financial support to national sports organisations, published the first NSO Governance - principles of best practice (DOC  - 60 KB) to assist sports organisations. The updated 2012 Sports Governance Principles (PDF  - 670 KB) included six major principles relating to:

  1. Board composition, roles and powers.
  2. Board processes.
  3. Governance systems.
  4. Board reporting and performance.
  5. Stakeholder relationship and reporting.
  6. Ethical and responsible decision-making.

Mandatory Sports Governance Principles

In 2013 Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission) released the first Mandatory Sports Governance Principles. These Principles required the seven sports that received the highest level of funding to be compliant with them in order to continue to receive funding. In 2015 the number of sports required to be compliant increased, with additional sports to be added in future.

Sport Australia’s increased focus on good governance and accountability has two dimensions:

  1. A set of mandatory governance principles for larger partner sports receiving more than $5 million per annum in funding, with financial implications for non compliance.
  2. Establishing a much stronger link between sports’ performance and their funding - with a continued emphasis on participation.

Key reforms sought include:

  • Improved organisation structures
  • Improved Board election processes and gender balance
  • Zero tolerance for any lack of transparency by sports on how they spend money
  • Public company level requirements for sports financial reporting practices
  • Proper supervision by Boards of sports science practices.

Australia's innovation in recognising and mandating good governance for sporting organisations has now been followed by other countries, including the UK and Belgium. 

  • Governments tighten control of national sport organisations, Soren Bang, Play the Game, (15 December 2016). Governments have a growing interest in the governance of national sports organisations. Since 2013, Australia has required public supported sports organisations to follow a set of mandatory governance principles. Now, UK and Belgium are following suit and introduce new governance codes. 

Governance Reform 

In 2015, Sport Australia developed the Governance Reform in Sport Discussion Paper (PDF  -  398 KB) to explore statements of better practice that may inform future updates to the Sports Governance Principles and the Mandatory Sports Governance Principles.

In 2016, following consultation and feedback in relation to the Discussion Paper, Sport Australia provided a more detailed position paper, Governance Reform in Sport, which highlighted continual governance improvement; national financial management agreements; and voting rights as key areas of future governance reform. 

  • Governance Reform in Sport (PDF  - 223 KB), (June 2016) 
  • ASC leads governance reform to unify sports and build trust, Australian Sports Commission media, (17 June 2016). John Wylie AM has launched a second wave of governance reform, confident sports can improve commercial outcomes and the trust of members by becoming more nationally unified. Following extensive national consultation, the ASC has released a paper on governance reform which calls for sports to take a unified approach to behaviours, processes, and supporting systems. 
  • SportAUS One Management - One Golf [video], Sport Australia/YouTube, (7 April 2019). Golf Australia has recently been working through the adoption of ‘One Golf’, a One Management model specific to the sport of Golf. Stephen Pitt, CEO of Golf Australia, was kind enough to recently sit down and share some insights into the One Golf journey, the benefits it has delivered for the sport, and why it’s important for sports to consider an enhanced operating model like One Management. 
Additionally, in May 2016, Sport Australia released new practical guidelines to assist Australian sport leaders with the management and oversight of integrity issues such as: anti-doping; illicit drugs; match-fixing; sports science sports medicine (SSSM) principles; and member protection (specifically complaint handling and child protection measures). The new guidelines provided sample questions that any director sitting on a sporting board could ask of themselves, their executive team, and their sport in regards to integrity practices.

State and Territory Initiatives

In December 2015, the Victorian Government committed to implementing nine recommendations from the final report of the independent Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation. The inquiry's recommendations were aimed at enhancing participation of women and girls in sport and physical activity, as well as increasing female engagement in leadership and governance roles. 

One of the key recommendations in regards to governance was to ‘mandate gender balance and good governance principles’, with a 40% gender balance quota suggested for board positions, otherwise sports could miss out on funding. This recommendation was also highlighted in the Safe and Strong – a Victorian gender equality strategy released by the Victorian Government in December 2016.

Sport and Recreation Victoria have now engaged Vicsport to help affected organisations transition to meet the quota by 1 July 2019. 

  • Appoint women or lose funding: State crackdown on sports bodies, Larissa Nicholson, Sydney Morning Herald, (December 2015). Sporting associations and peak bodies will need to fill at least 40 per cent of their board positions with women or miss out on funding. The move is one of a raft of recommendations made by a special advisory committee on women and girls in sport, which the state government intends to adopt in full. In a massive shake-up of how sport is run in the state, the Victorian government will refuse to give any money to sports that do not achieve the mandated close-to-even split along gender lines among their top administrators. 

Traditionally, sporting organisations were formed as Associations . However, with increased professionalisation, higher income streams, and franchise teams (i.e. as in Twenty 20 cricket), there has been a move, supported by Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission), toward reforming under Corporation law as companies limited by guarantee. 

[source: Structure for sport in the Mandatory Sports Governance Principles, Australian Sports Commission, (June 2015)]

Not-for-profit organisations 

The primary purpose of not-for-profit (NFP) organisations is to pursue a goal or special interest other than commercial profit for its members.  The purpose, or primary objective, of an NFP may be charitable, social, educational, professional or religious.  Examples include schools, churches, sporting clubs and membership organisations for industry professions.

Any surplus generated by an NFP must be put towards advancing the purpose for which the organisation was established; not distributed to members. 

NFPs are often established as public companies limited by guarantee or incorporated associations (as described below).

Public companies limited by guarantee

This is a common structure for not-for-profit or charitable organisations that reinvest any surplus (profit) to serve its primary purpose. 

These companies are formed on the principle that the liability of members is limited to the amount they agree to contribute in the event the company is wound up.  This is typically a nominal amount and is prescribed in a company’s constitution. 

As public companies limited by guarantee are registered under the Corporations Act, directors of not-for-profits (which have this structure) generally have the same legal duties, responsibilities, and liabilities as directors of commercial entities that are public companies registered under the Act. 

Incorporated Associations

Incorporated associations are formed under, and must comply with, the relevant legislation for their state or territory. Unlike public companies limited by guarantee, these organisations are not administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Organisations that carry out business in a state other than that in which they are incorporated are required to be registered under the Corporations Act. This registration imposes additional administrative requirements.  

Within the sport sector and indeed the broader business sector the subject of overall Board and individual Director performance is often overlooked as part of annual and on-going reviews into the success or otherwise of an organisation. Below are a number of articles related to this topic:

  • A consultant’s view: “Re-elected unopposed” - limited competition in International Federation presidential elections in 2016Play the Game, (15 December 2016). Wider adoption of term limits for elected officials would be an important step forward in tackling democratic failings in International Federations (IF), argues Rowland Jack in this comment piece, noting the limited competition in recent IF presidential elections. 
  • Leadership insights on governance in sport: For sport leaders to spot, share and shape evolving good practices (PDF  - 845 KB), Change the Game, (2013).
  • The rules of the Game: The Need for Transparency in Sports Governance, Antoine Duval, Play The Game, (1 July 2016). Governance scandals have rocked the sports world in recent years. According to researcher Antoine Duval, the lack of transparency holds a great part of the blame. In this comment piece, Duval points to three areas in sports governance that are in need of greater transparency.
  • Behavioural Governance: Linking Boards And Organisational Performance, (PDF  - 600 KB), Dr Denis Mowbray, (2014). The defining links between the performance of boards and their ability to influence organisational performance have been debated by commentators, directors and researchers alike. There is general agreement that understanding how boards influence organisational performance is important. The accepted view is that poor-performing organisations (both corporate and not-for-profit (NFP)) have poor-performing boards and, conversely, a high-performing organisation is credited with being led by a high-performing board. 
  • Evaluating Sport Club Board Performance: A Customer Perspective, (PDF  - 89 KB), Heath McDonald and Emma Sherry, Deakin University, paper presented at the ANZMAC 2007 Conference, (3-5 December 2007). Customers are overlooked often as a stakeholder group when it comes to assessing board performance. To gain insight into the factors that affect customer perceptions of non-profit board performance, over 20,000 members from 14 different professional, non-profit sporting clubs were surveyed. The results suggest that sporting club boards are evaluated primarily in line with perceptions specifically related to their administrative effectiveness, although the on-field performance of the team is a contributing and correlated factor. Board performance and on -field performance perceptions were both direct contributors to overall member satisfaction, with board performance being the stronger. Perceptions of board performance are clearly worth managing in a holistic manner.
  •  Sir Martin warns sports world to "adapt or die" as Working Paper on good governance released, Nick Butler, Inside The Games, (20 April 2016). Sorrell, boss of advertising giants WPP, has warned the sports world to "adapt or die" following a mass of recent scandals on a day a white paper was released introducing a new "Game Changer" methodology to reform sports governing bodies. Titled Implementing Good Governance Principles in Sports Organisations (PDF  - 581 KB), the white paper was conducted by two companies owned by WPP, Burson-Marsteller and TSE Consulting. It claims to reveal the "depth of the current crisis in the industry".
  • More Than A “1 Percenter”, Vicsport. Research clearly confirms the positive correlation of board diversity with the financial performance or an organisation.
  • Principle 5: Organisational Performance, in Good Governance Principles and Guidance for NFP Organisations, Australian Institute of Company Directors, (2013). The degree to which an organisation is delivering on its purpose can be difficult to assess, but this can be aided by the board determining and assessing appropriate performance categories and indicators for the organisation. 
  • The Essendon Syndrome, Social Proof and Obedience to Authority – Behavioural Characteristics That Affect Many Sport Boards, (PDF  - 410 KB), Dr Denis Mowbray, (February 2016). The doping scandal and subsequent fallout for the players, club, coaches and board of the Essendon AFL club are the outward manifestation of a syndrome that affects the boards of many international and national sporting organisations. The genesis of this syndrome takes place in the selection and election of directors of sporting organisations.
  • What Makes for a High-Performing Board? Definition and Measurement, Rae Sedel and Luke Meynell, Russell Reynold Associates. Research clearly confirms the positive correlation of board diversity with the financial performance or an organisation. In this issue, Russell Reynolds Associates’ consultants Luke Meynell, Rae Sedel and the CEO/Board Services team discuss the definition and measurement of a high-performing board. The paper draws upon the team’s experience in working closely with boards and upon the specific insights provided by the chairmen and chief executive officers of some of the United Kingdom’s largest companies.

There has been significant investment by Australian federal, state, and territory government departments in growing the capacity of sports organisations and clubs at all levels of the sector. This has included support and services aimed at developing and building organisational capability and resources.

Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission)

  • Integrity guidelines for directors and leaders of sporting organisations (PDF  - 800 KB), Australian Sports Commission, (May 2016). A practical road map and support reference for sports to further strengthen their own integrity frameworks.
  • Mandatory Sports Governance Principles, (PDF  - 449 KB), Australian Sports Commission, (March 2015). Elements of the 2013 Principles are critical to good governance and are reflected as non-negotiable requirements in these Mandatory Sports Governance Principles.
  • Sports Governance PrinciplesAustralian Sports Commission, (March 2012). The purpose of these guidelines are to: (1) assist member of boards, chief executive officers and managers of sporting organisations to develop, implement and maintain a robust system of governance that fits the particular circumstances of their sport; (2) provide the mechanism for an entity to establish and maintain an ethical culture through a committed self-regulatory approach; and (3) provide members and stakeholders with benchmarks against which to gauge the entity's performance.
  • Club Health Check, Australian Sports Commission, (2013). The Club Health Check is an online self-assessment tool aimed at helping clubs examine how they are operating. The checklist looks at a number of different factors that are crucial to success at club level and together these factors are used to build an overall picture of the way your club carries out its operations.
  • GovernanceSport Australia, (accessed 15 February 2019).
  • Organisational Development Support Framework, (PDF  - 54 KB), Australian Sports Commission, (2012).

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

South Australia

Office for Recreation and Sport provides assistance to associations and clubs through the Star Club program. Good governance practices are essential for any organisation to be able to function effectively. The Office for Recreation and Sport is committed to working with state sport and active recreation organisations to develop and pursue a philosophy of good governance and continuous improvement:



  • Good Governance Framework & Toolkit A Practical Guide to Governance for Sporting Organisations (PDF   - 68.0 KB), Vicsport, (2015). The Good Governance Framework and Toolkit has been developed by Vicsport to assist State Sport Associations (SSAs) to improve governance practices, increase skills and develop greater board diversity.
  • ClubHelp. The Victorian Regional Sports Assemblies ClubHelp resource provides good governance and volunteer support, information and training and development opportunities to local clubs in rural and regional Victoria. 
  • Are You On Board? (AYOB). In 2014 Vicsport initiated the Campaign to support conversation and action around gender diversity on Victorian SSA boards. In 2015 Vicsport has develop three further campaign videos to raise awareness and assist sports to disseminate messages on the benefits of diversity and inclusion to Victorian grassroots sport organisations. As part of the Campaign, Vicsport created and compiled tools to help SSA CEOs, Presidents and Board Members to put gender diversity on the agenda and take action. 

Western Australia

  • Governance, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.
  • Managing Your Club, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

Reports from previous sport sector organisational reviews can provide valuable insights which may assist other groups in developing and maintaining good practice. 


Independent Review of Athletics in Australia (2015) [also known as the Buchanan review]

Australian Canoeing

Behavioural Governance Review (2014)

Review of the Delivery of the Sport of Canoeing in Australia (2006) [also known as the Kidston review]

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC)

Independent Cultural Review (2017)

  • Report (PDF  - 4.7 MB), The Ethics Centre, (August 2017)
    • AOC commits to implementing recommendations on Independent Cultural Review, Australian Olympic Committee, (24 August 2017). The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has committed to implementing all 17 recommendations of the Independent Cultural Review conducted by The Ethics Centre into the workplace culture of the AOC. The Review is a comprehensive 64 page document based on the experiences and perceptions of staff and stakeholders to frame and assess the AOC’s Ethical Framework. 
    • Australian Olympic Committee President stands firm despite critical review. Play the Game, (25 August 2017). Undeterred by a critical assessment of its workplace culture, John Coates upholds his role as Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President.  


A Good Governance Structure For Australian Cricket (2011) [also known as the Crawford and Carter Governance review]
  • Final Report - part one (PDF - 5.1 MB) (December 2011)
  • Final Report - part two (PDF  - 3.1 MB) (December 2011)
    • CA board structure to be revolutionised. Daniel Brettig, ESPN cricinfo, (8 December 2011). Australian cricket's governance is to be revolutionised, with each of Australian cricket's state associations to be asked to approve a reformed and reduced Cricket Australia board structure that removes a century-old imbalance of power to afford equal rights to each of the states.


Independent Review, release announcement, Department of Health, (January 2013) [also known as the Wood review]




  • One Sailing: case study, (PDF  - 1 MB), Australian Sports Commission/Australian Sailing, (2016). This case study provides an overview of the planning, delivery process and outcomes of the One Sailing project undertaken by Australian Sailing (formerly Yachting Australia). Commencing in December 2014, the project was completed in June 2016 resulting in the most significant transformation of the governance and organisation of sailing in the history of the sport in Australia. 
  • Australian Sailing announces ground breaking reforms in Australian Sport Governance, Australian sailing, (5 July 2016). Australian Sailing, formerly Yachting Australia, announced today the completion of the most important governance and management reforms in the sports’ history. The reforms will have far reaching and lasting impact on the growth and sustainability of sailing in Australia, and puts Australian Sailing at the vanguard of sports governance reform in this country. A new strategic plan, Advance Sailing, Building the Capability and Capacity of Sailing 2016-2020 has also been launched.

Ski & Snowboard Australia

Squash Australia

Governance Review (2011-2014)


Independent Review of Swimming (February 2013) [also known as the Smith review]


Lodha Committee: BCCI report on sports governance in India (2016)
  • Supreme Court Committee on Reforms in Cricket. Reports, documents, and FAQs from the Lodha Committee.
    • The Impact Of The Lodha Committee BCCI Report On Sports Governance In India, R. Seshank Shekar Anirban Saikia, Law in Sport, (15 December 2016). While the Committee was primarily constituted to provide its recommendations in the aftermath of the findings presented by the Justice Mudgal Probe Panel in relation the 2013 Indian Premier League (“IPL”) spot fixing scandal, it was also mandated to examine and make suitable recommendations to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”) for such reforms in its functioning and practices as may be considered necessary and appropriate with the aim of, amongst other things, preventing sporting frauds and conflict of interests, improving player welfare, streamlining the functioning of the BCCI, and making it more responsive and accountable to the public at large. 


Cycling Independent Reform Commission (2015)


An independent review of the World Squash Federation (October 2016)
  • Report (PDF  - 1.4 MB), Rowland Jack, I Trust Sport Ltd, (October 2016). The World Squash Federation (WSF) commissioned sports governance consultancy I Trust Sport to conduct an independent review in July 2016 in order to determine whether the WSF and its partners are “fit for purpose” in their governance, structures, areas of responsibility and relationships. The methods used were a combination of desk research to apply a governance assessment tool published by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and a 360 degree review supported by VERO communications, which provided insights into the opinions of individuals within the WSF and representatives of stakeholder organisations. 

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Australia’s not-for-profit sector is large and diverse and plays an important role in building a productive and inclusive Australia. Neither commercial nor government, the sector plays a central role in enriching communities, culturally, socially, economically, and environmentally, as well as providing assistance and support to the most vulnerable in our community.

There are an estimated 600,000 entities in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector [source: Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector, Productivity Commission Research Report, (January 2010)], the majority of which are small unincorporated neighbourhood groups or associations that provide support for and wellbeing in the community.

The NFP industry plays a significant role in the Australian economy. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Non Profit Industry GDP in 2012-13 was AU$57,710 million [source: 5256.0 - Australian National Accounts: Non-Profit Institutions Satellite Account, 2012-13, ABS, (latest release: 28 August 2015]. 

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the independent national regulator of charities. The ACNC has been set up to achieve the following objects:

  • maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector through increased accountability and transparency;
  • support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector; and
  • promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the sector.

Our Community

Our Community provides advice and tools for Australia's 600,000 not-for-profit community groups and state, private, and independent schools, as well as practical linkages between the community sector and the general public, business, and government. 

The Our Community Policy Bank contains a range of free policy and procedure templates that are relevant to not-for-profit boards and committees and the organisations they govern. Categories for policy documents include: values, governance, financial management, financial control, communications, volunteers, human resources, and other miscellaneous policies. 

Australian Institute of Company Directors

The Australian Institute of Company Directors is a member-based, not-for-profit organisation for directors. Their main activities include education; conducting professional development programs and events for boards and directors; producing publications on director and governance issues; and developing and promoting policies on issues of interest to directors.

The Australian Company of Directors Director Tools provides a range of useful resources and links to governance related information. The Not-for-profit resources section contains support for not-for-profit directors, including: 

  • NFP Governance & Performance Study.
  • Good Governance Principles and Guidance.
  • NFP Director Tools.
  • Resources.
  • Latest News.

National Sporting Organisation Resources

  • Australian Football (AFL): AFL Community provides information on starting a football club; club management; grants & fundraising; and other resources.
  • Australian Rugby (ARU): Running Rugby provides resources to strengthen rugby clubs, improve their effectiveness, culture, and well-being in order to grow capacity & capability to deliver quality rugby experiences.  
  • Australian Sailing: The Information & Services for Club Officials page provides a variety of documents and resources relating to sailing, staff, safety, governing bodies, and integrity documents. 
    • Case Studies from Discover Sailing, Sailability, and Tackers. 
  • BMX Australia: Club Management resources include information on Running a BMX club; Participation days; Risk management; and Club marketing. 
  • Bowls Australia: Club Support resources including Strategic planning & governance; Membership & participation; Marketing & social media; Grants, sponsorship & fundraising; Facility management & development, Club benchmarking; Volunteers & staffing; and Health & wellbeing.
  • CAMS: The CAMS Club Resource Guide is the ultimate resource for information on running a CAMS Affiliated Car Club.
  • Cricket Australia: Cricket Australia supports grassroots cricket clubs by providing a wealth of resources to assist with running their club.
  • Golf Australia: The Clubs & Facilities Support Portal has been developed as a whole of industry initiative to assist with resources, tools and information on running a successful golf facility.
  • Netball Australia: Clubs & Association Policies provides resources including National policies; Member protection & dispute resolution; Facilities; Sample policies & fact sheets; National insurance program; and volunteer support. 
  • Softball AustraliaHOME PLATE is a one-stop shop of tools, templates, resources, information and best practice examples to support you in starting, running or growing your club or association. 
  • Squash Australia: Starting a Club resource provides information from Researching demand to Governance and management through to future planning. 
  • Swimming Australia: Club Development resources include Committee management; Club environment; Club planning; Volunteer management; Coaches; Facilities; Marketing, fundraising and sponsorship; Conflict & complaint management; Communication & technology; One Club Model; and more. 
  • Integrity & sport events position paper, (PDF  - 1.9 MB) Paul Hover, Bake Dijk, Koen Breedveld, Frank van Eekeren. With contributions from Marjan Olfers, Wim Keijsers, Jan Hein Boersma, and Ryan Gauthier,  Mulier Institute & Utrecht University, (April 2016). Sport events are appreciated as important sources of inspiration and positive energy. Yet, for a growing number of people, the negative aspects of sport events have come to cast a shadow over sport events as a positive experience. Questions and doubts have been raised about the transparency and good governance of the different processes surrounding sport events as well as the integrity of the actors involved. 


  • Sports Governance Observer 2017Play the Game, (15 December 2016). The main aim of SGO 2017: ‘National Sports Governance Observer: Benchmarking sports governance across national boundaries’ is to assist and inspire national sports organisations to raise the quality of their governance practices.
  • New Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) launched, ICSS, (10 October 2016). Over 50 leading representatives from sport, government, academia, sponsors and other international and corporate organisations unite in Madrid to progress first-ever Sport Integrity Alliance to drive reform in sport. With the aim of addressing much-needed reform in the integrity and governance of sport, over 50 leading organisations from across all sectors of the industry have gathered in Madrid to push forward a Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA).
  • Presentations from Play the Game 2015, Play the Game, (October 2015). A number of the session focused upon ‘good governance’ practices. 
  • 2016 International Sports Report Card on Women in Leadership Roles (PDF   - 502 KB). Dr. Richard Lapchick, with Erin Davison, Caryn Grant & Rodrigo Quirarte, The Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport, (August 2016). "The leadership in international sport is an exclusive club of men" noted Richard Lapchick as the overwhelming conclusion of the first graded report card on the representation of women in leadership roles in international sport. 


  • Board Governance – Succession Planning: Volleyball Canada, SIRCuit, (December 2016). Recognizing the importance of engaging highly qualified leaders on the Board of Directors, Volleyball Canada recently completed a succession planning process.  Mark Eckert, President and CEO recognizes that, “With only 7 people on our board, it’s critical that we continue to attract exceptional directors to govern our organization.” After reviewing a number of on-line resources, Volleyball Canada created a customized approach to succession planning which included the following 3 steps:
    • Step 1 – Identify The Key Skills, Experience, Knowledge And Diversity You Need
    • Step 2 – Create A Skills Matrix For Current Board Members
    • Step 3 – Conduct Targeted Recruiting
  • Five Propositions for Good Sport Organization Governance, Paul Jurbala, Canadian Sport for Life Team 
  • Leadership SIRCuit. Canada has incredible business acumen and knowledge within our own sport system and the Leadership SIRCuit gives us the opportunity to highlight those people and organizations that excel and share those experiences with each other. This e-journal incorporates highly relevant articles as well as video tutorials, interviews and podcasts to enhance the learning experience.
  • Sport Governance. The Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) of Canada maintains an online portal to provide information, resources, and collaborative opportunities for their national sporting organisations with organisational governance issues. Some of the available resources are freely accessible.

European Union (EU)

  • National Sports Governance Observer: indicators of good governance in national federations. Preliminary Report (PDF  - 1.1 MB). Arnout Geeraert, Play the Game / Danish Institute for Sports Studies, (2017). As reported by Play the Game, experts from nine European nations have analysed the governance standards of at least eight federations in their respective home countries. Some positive findings included that on average, the national federations, have transparent election rules for board members, seven out of ten use external auditors for their financial accounts, and eight out of ten publish their internal rules and regulations. However, the report also demonstrated that federations do not report on board decisions or remuneration, fail to have significant athlete involvement, and do not promote good club governance. Additionally, there are limited policies or processes in place to promote gender equity, combat sexual harassment or discrimination, or address health risks of sport. 
  • EU Parliament stresses good governance in proposal for renewed sports policy, Stine Alvad, Play The Game, (13 February 2017). In a step towards evaluating the policy path of the European Union in the area of sports, the European Parliament recently adopted a new resolution focusing on good governance, accessibility and integrity in sport. Following a report and a hearing evaluating the existing sports policy in the EU, the European Parliament has adopted guidelines and recommendations for shaping a new sports policy paradigm.
  • Towards Dynamic Governance 2014, European Corporate Governance Report, (PDF  - 1 MB), Heidrick and Struggles, (2014). The demand for dynamic governance is based on two main realisations. First, leadership starts at board level. Second, governance is a means of enabling and driving business performance. All things being equal, well governed companies excel.
  • Basic Indicators for Better Governance in International Sport (BIBGIS): An assessment tool for international sport governing bodies, (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Jean‐Loup Chappelet and Michaël Mrkonjic, IDHEAP Working Paper, (January 2013)
  • Governance in SportEuropean Commission. Across Europe efforts are being made to try and raise governance standards in the sports sector, specifically around the principles of democracy, transparency, accountability in decision-making, and inclusiveness in the representation of interested stakeholders.
  • Good Governance and Ethics in Sport, (PDF  - 1.1 MB). A report by a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that presents its guidelines for good governance and ethics in sport. 

International Olympic Committee

  1. The basic principles of good governance, including transparent and democratic decision making processes, financial reporting and auditing according to international standards, publication of financial reports and ethics and compliance rules, etc. to be applied during 2016.
  2. The IOC will initiate an independent audit system of its major subventions to IFs, NOCs and Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) with regard to the financial as well as the good governance aspects. With regard to all other activities of IFs, NOCs and OCOGs, Recommendation 27 of Olympic Agenda 2020 should be applied as from 2016. The IOC, recognising the independence and autonomy of the IFs, appreciates their support for this initiative as expressed in the IOC EB meeting and by setting up a working group on sports governance by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).
  3. Given the continuing evolution of good governance practice, the IOC, only one year after undertaking further major reforms in this respect, has asked the world-renowned International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne and its Global Board Centre to undertake research into good governance at the IOC itself. A first assessment by IMD was presented to the Executive Board. 

New Zealand

  • Governance framework for sport and recreation in New Zealand, Sport New Zealand, (17 July 2015). In response to the benchmark findings Sport New Zealand in consultation with sector representatives has created a governance framework. This is based on accumulated good practice and experience over the past ten years. They have looked to similar international frameworks and listened to sound feedback. The framework is still in draft and are interested in a wider set of sector feedback. Visual framework summary and the detailed text (DOC  - 47 KB).  

Sport New Zealand has produced a number of resources that are designed to assist sporting organisations in understanding and fulfilling their governance requirements. These include topics covering:

  • The role of the Board Chair. 
  • Nine Steps to Effective Governance: building high performance organisations. 
  • Supporting template resources.
  • Strategic and Business Planning. 
  • Creating a Stakeholder Communications Plan. 
  • Risk Management of Event. 
  • People Management. 
  • Connecting Corporate Governance and Gender Equity.

United Kingdom

  • Beyond 30% Report, Women in Sport, (8 March 2017). Women in Sport’s seventh annual audit looks into the numbers and experiences of women on the board and in senior leadership roles in NGBs in England and Wales.
  • Good Governance in Sport: A Survey of UK National Governing Bodies of Sport, (PDF  - 1.6 MB). Dr Geoff Walters, Dr Linda Trenberth and Richard Tacon, Birbeck Sport Business Centre, (April 2010). This report presents the findings from a research project focusing on the governance of national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) in the UK. Governance has become an increasingly important issue that NGBs in the UK have had to address over the last decade due to examples of poor management, financial failure, and increased public funding for sport that have resulted in the need for more professional sports administrative structures. These issues have been addressed during the last decade by UK Sport and the Sports Councils as part of a Modernisation Programme aimed at improving NGB governance
  • 'Governance, Finance and Control - The Things to Think About', Sport England. (February 2011). 'Things to Think About', has been developed by Sport England and UK Sport in response to requests from national governing bodies of sport for support as they develop their governance, finance and control frameworks.
  • Governance Library, UK Sport and Recreation Alliance.
  • Code for Sports Governance, Sport England and UK Sport. Sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that will be required from those who ask for Government and National Lottery funding from April 2017.
  • Charter for sports governanceSport England and UK Sport. Governance in the publicly funded sport sector in the United Kingdom is already at a good standard. There are many exemplars of sports organisations with outstanding governance and exceptional leadership whose achievements should be recognised and celebrated. Later this year a new Governance Code for Sport in the UK will be published. It will build on this achievement, and the existing governance requirements of UK Sport and Sport England and set out the governance standards that will be expected of sports bodies seeking public funding with effect from 2017.
  • Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation. Sport & Recreation Alliance. Our aim is to provide guidance that, as well as being compliant with the various Sports Council requirements on funded bodies, can be of practical assistance to a much wider range of organisations, while still setting an extremely high standard of good governance. The majority of our members are not publicly funded, and are therefore not subject to the various Sports Council governance requirements; but this doesn’t mean that good governance isn’t important for them for long-term sustainability.
  • Sport England - Governance strategy framework. Sport England has developed guidance that will help our key stakeholders to develop and maintain the highest standards of leadership and governance. The Sport England Governance Strategy: On board for better governance sets out our governance objectives, requirements and support for all our stakeholders.
  • Sport Wales Framework, (PDF  - 1.0 MB). Following extensive consultation over the past 12-months the sport and recreation sector in Wales has lead on the development of the new framework after highlighting a need for improved governance and leadership.

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.


  • Sport Governance: International Case Studies, Ian O'Boyle & Trish Bradbury [eds], Routledge, (2014). This book offers a series of in-depth case studies of governance policy and practice in 15 countries and regions, including the US, UK, China, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as chapters covering governance by, and of, global sport organisations and international sport federations. 
  • An Ethical Approach to Managing Sport in the 21st CenturyGovernance and Policy Development, (PDF  - 475 KB), Thomas H. Sawyer, Kimberly J. Bodey and Lawrence W. Judge, Sagamore Publishing, (2008). This book successfully takes on the challenge of analyzing the complexity of organizational governance and policy development across a broad spectrum of sport organizations and settings. 


  • Action for Good Governance in International Sports OrganisationsPlay The Game (AGGIS). The Sports Governance Observer is a new benchmarking tool that enables national and international sports leaders to improve the governance of their federation.
  • Benefits of a company structure compared with an incorporated association, (DOC  - 22.0 KB), Dr. Neil Primrose, Managing Director of Primrose Solutions Pty Ltd, (October 2008). An increasing number of associations are pondering whether they should incorporate as companies limited by guarantee? What are the costs and what are the benefits?
  • Board Reviews - Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail – A New Model is Needed, (PDF  - 782 KB), Dr Denis Mowbray, (October 2015). Research and experience have identified that organisational performance is intrinsically linked to the performance of both the board and executive. The performance of one without the other is only half as good as the combination of the two. The board and executive teams are individually responsible, yet collectively accountable for organisational performance. 
  • Business Ethics and Sport Governance (PDF  - 1.0 MB), IBE Briefing, (22 September 2016). This briefing discussed the core values that shape the spirit of sport. In particular is looks at the role of sporting governing bodies in embedding those values, both at national and international level; it also analyses how appropriate governance structures can enable them to protect the integrity of sport.
  • The future of sports governance: Will sport sustain its traditional model of autonomy? Ravi Mehta, Sports Law Bulletin, (3 January 2017). Faced with the maturing of the sports industry, the capacity of traditional governance models to deal with contemporary issues is under the spotlight, raising the fundamental question: is the current structure of sports governance working? And the related questions, raised by many fans and casual sports observers: what role (if any) should governments be playing in sports governance? Is there something different about sport to other industries?
  • Leveraging the Olympic Games for building sport organisations' capacityBrunel University, (July 2015). Debating NGBs' engagement with the Olympic Games and organisational capacity-building. The UK government stated that the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics would provide a once in a life time opportunity to 'inspire a generation' and reverse years of decreasing mass participation in physical activity. This conference heard from key stakeholders from various Olympic and Paralympic organisations, academics and sport leaders on the topic of governance and the role of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in building the capacity of sport organisations.
  • Magic Bus: Important leadership lessons for an NGO, Sophie Beauvais,, (23 July 2015). International development consultant Sophie Beauvais shares her case study of the Magic Bus leadership succession story, which highlights the organisation’s move away from a founder led initiative to strengthen its capacity. 
  • Measuring What Matters in Not-for-Profits, (PDF  - 532 KB), John Sawhill and David Williamson, McKinsey Quarterly(May 2001).
  • Modernisation and governance in UK national governing bodies of sport: how modernisation influences the way board members perceive and enact their roles, Richard Tacon and Geoff Walters, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, Volume 8, 2016 - Issue 3. Modernisation has been a key objective of many national governments for at least the last two decades. A significant element of the modernisation agenda has been the focus on improving the governance of public sector and, more recently, voluntary sector organisations. In the UK voluntary sport sector, this has involved policy statements, governance monitoring systems linked to public funding and a number of ‘good governance’ guides, aimed primarily at the boards of national governing bodies of sport.
  • "Sport For Good Governance", European Commission. The governance and management of sports is a matter of public interest. This interest has steadily increased over the years, as sport professionalised and commercialised blurring the border between amateur and professional sport.


  • Board Performance of Australia Voluntary Sport Organisation [thesis] (PDF  - 651 KB), Russell Hoye, Griffith University, (August 2002). The governance of Australian non-profit sport organisations was once the exclusive domain of volunteers. However, changes in government policy and funding levels in recent years has led to the introduction of professional staff in many organisations.
  • Developing a conceptual framework to analyse professionalization in sport federations. Kaisa Ruoranen, Christoffer Klenk, Torsten Schlesinger, Emmanuel Bayle, Josephine Clausen, David Giauque & Siegfried Nagel, European Journal for Sport and Society, Volume 13(1), (2016). This study explores the perceptions of practitioners and proposes a framework to analyse professionalization in national sport federations. Practitioners disclosed an ambivalent view of professionalization, e.g. business-like culture vs. voluntarism, for-profit vs. non-profit orientation, autonomy vs. control. A framework is developed that synthesizes analytical concepts and practitioners’ perceptions to support future comprehensive research into causes, forms and consequences of professionalization in national sport federations.
  • Existing governance principles in sport: a review of published literature, (PDF  - 567 KB), Jean‐Loup Chappelet and Michaël Mrkonjic, Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP) at the University of Lausanne.
  • Exploring Issues of Trust in Collaborative Sport Governance. Ian O’Boyle & David Shilbury, Journal of Sport Management, Volume 30(1), (January 2016). This study explores how trust is manifested and impacts on the levels of collaboration that take place in sport governance networks. Extant levels of trust, transparency, the capacity to build trust, and leadership emerged as the key themes in the study. Leadership specifically, as a key finding, was shown to be an important factor in fostering collaborative relations at the governance level of these systems. A number of implications for sport governance practice and possible extensions for sport governance research based on these findings conclude the article.
  • Gender Diversity in the Governance of Sport Associations: The Sydney Scoreboard Global Index of Participation. Johanna Adriaanse, Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 137(1), (August 2016), pp.149–160. This paper examines gender diversity in sport governance globally. An audit of the gender ratio on boards of National Sport Organisations (n = 1,600) was conducted in 45 countries. Findings show that women remain under-represented on three key indicators: as board directors (global mean 19.7 %), board chairs (10.8 %) and chief executives (16.3 %). Few countries have achieved a critical mass of 30 % representation and no continent has achieved the critical mass on any of the three indicators. Gender diversity on sport boards is associated with four interwoven dimensions of gender relations: production, power, emotion and symbolism. The combination of the four dimensions produces an environment that may or may not be conducive to gender diversity.
  • Government involvement in high performance sport: an Australian national sporting organisation perspective, Lisa Gowthorp, Kristine Toohey and James Skinner, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, (17 August 2016). The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Summer Olympic National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to determine the effect the relationship has on Olympic performance outcomes. Five Olympic NSOs were examined: Athletics Australia, Cycling Australia, Rowing Australia, Swimming Australia and Yachting Australia. All five NSOs represent sports in which Australia has consistently achieved strong results at previous Olympic Games. 
  • Obstacles to accountability in international sports governance, (PDF   - 1.0 MB), Roger Pielke, Transparency International, (2015). To understand why international sport organisations are so often the subject of allegations and findings of corruption it is necessary to understand the unique standing of these bodies in their broader national and international settings. Through the contingencies of history and a desire by sports leaders to govern themselves autonomously, international sports organisations have developed in such a way that they have less well developed mechanisms of governance than many governments, businesses and civil society organisations. The rapidly increasing financial interests in sport and associated with sport create a fertile setting for corrupt practices to take hold. When they do, the often insular bodies have shown little ability to adopt or enforce the standards of good governance that are increasingly expected around the world.
  • Sporting clubs and scandals – Lessons in governance, Thai Huu Phata, Jacqueline Birta, Michael J. Turnera, Jean-Pierre Fenechb, Sport Management Review, Volume 19, Issue 1, February 2016. Highlights include:
    • The case examines the use of performance enhancing drugs in two well-known football teams – The Cronulla Sharks and the Essendon Football Club.
    • The case investigates issues in corporate governance.
    • Case questions allow students to compare issues in governance between sporting club entities and listed companies.
  • The Relationship between Good Governance and Sustainability in Australian Sport, (PDF  - 435 KB), Francesco Bonollo de Zwart and George Gilligan, (2007). Sport as public policy, 1972-1985, Armstrong, Thomas, Thesis (M.H.M.S.), University of Queensland (1985). Governance, and in particular, the quest for ongoing good governance, has become one of the dominant paradigms of contemporary society. Good governance is a mantra for organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in how they deal with less developed nations. Similarly, the quest for good governance lies at the heart of much of the corporate law reform that has occurred in many of the most developed nations in recent times, such as Australia’s Corporate Law Economic Reform Program (CLERP). This paper discusses how the impacts of these broader developments striving for good governance, especially in the corporate environment, have permeated into the sphere of sport in Australia, and how good governance is increasingly being viewed as essential for the sustainability of Australian sports and sporting organisations.


        • Australian Sports Professionals Association (ASPA). The Australian Sports Professionals Association (ASPA) is an industry body for individuals who work in sport in Australia—all the way from administrators of small state/territory sports to CEOs and Board members of large national sports. ASPA was formed to connect those with a passion for the sporting industry within Australia. From providing opportunities to connect, communicate and collaborate with other professionals to facilitating knowledge sharing sessions, training and education prospects, the release of regular publications, case studies, opinions pieces and best-practice guides to awards and mentoring these initiatives are driven by the industry, for the industry.
        • Drivers of Participation, Sport Australia, (accessed 18 April 2019). A toolkit to support organisations to design and deliver participation outcomes, to get more Australians moving more often. The toolkit covers drivers and barriers of participation, trends that impact sport participation, and planning methodology. 
        • Getting Your House in Order – Organisational Development Models that Work, The Inclusion Club, (June 2013). Sports organisations face increasingly complex business environments. In this webinar Paul Grogan (MDO Consulting) and Brendan Lynch (exSport) discuss sport governance structures and models, constitutions, strategic and operational planning
        • Good Governance in Grassroots Sport (GGGS). A transnational project that increases organisational capacity for good governance by focusing on transparency and accountability, particularly at the grassroots sport association level.
        • Good Governance Principles and Guidance for NFP Organisations, Australian Institute of Company Directors, (2013). The Principles and Guidance are designed to: assist boards in determining what constitutes good governance practice for their organisations; promote and facilitate the crucial conversations and associated activities NFP organisations undertake regularly to achieve good governance; but are not an attempt to formulate rules on what might constitute good governance practice for NFP organisations, or prescribe related behaviours and specific actions.
        • Online Governance Evaluation System (OGES), Sport New Zealand. In association with the Executive Coaching Centre (ECC) Sport New Zealand has created a new tool to assist in the evaluation and development of the boards of sport and recreation organisations
        • Organisational Development, Strengthen Governance, Good Governance Toolkit, Vicsport. The Good Governance Toolkit provides practical information and templates for consideration by Boards, Chairs, CEO’s and other stakeholders responsible for the quality of corporate governance in sporting organisations. The Toolkit assists sport organisations to improve governance practices at a board and leadership level.

        Clearinghouse Videos

        Please note a number of the resources below (as indicated) are restricted to ‘GOLD' AIS Advantage small AIS Advantage members only.
        Please see the Clearinghouse membership categories for further information.
        • Sport NSW Lightbulb Moments. Sport NSW Director Susan Horwitz speaks to leaders in the corporate and sporting world about leadership and equality on and off the field. (various dates and topics)
        • Cleveland Cavs - Q and A with Assistant GM Trent Redden. Trent Redden, Assistant General Manager, Cleveland Cavaliers, SmartTalk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, (25 November 2016)
        • Facility Planning & Development, Paul Cammack - Tennis Australia, Robin O'Neill - Strategy and Government Relations, Our Sporting Future 2015 (23 October 2015)
        • Digital leadership and Commercialisation, Marina Go - Chair, West Tigers, Our Sporting Future 2015 (23 October 2015)
        • Panel: Product development - new formats of sport, Anne-Marie Phippard - Head of Community, Tony Sherwill - Bowls Australia Ltd, Tim Klar - Athletics Australi, Facilitator - Kerry Turner - Manager Sport and Recreation NSW, Our Sporting Future 2015 (23 October 2015)
        • Panel: Governance reform in sport, Matt Caroll AM, Yachting Australia, Steve Walker, Yachting Victoria, Michael Thomson, Australian Sports Commission, Facilitator, Kerryn Newton, Directors Australia, Our Sporting Future 2015 (23 October 2015)

        Other videos

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