Sports Commission issues governance guide

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has released Governance Reform in Sport, calling for sports to take a unified approach to behaviour, processes and supporting systems.

Building trust and national cohesion while improving sports’ commercial and financial positions are key objectives of the ASC’s next stage of governance reform.

Building on ASC reforms over the past three years, the paper supports governance best-practice in areas such as board chairpersons elected by the board and not members, performance evaluation processes for boards, corporate rather than association structures, establishment of key board committees covering nominations, audit and risk, and board diversity and skill mix.

The paper states the need for governance improvement in the context of the social, commercial and financial environments facing many sports. Integrity, safety and duty-of-care are of growing importance, and media deals for bigger sports are increasingly lucrative, which puts smaller sports at a competitive disadvantage.

A highly competitive sponsorship market increasingly favours sports with big broadcast audiences, and economic pressures mean that sports cannot rely on government funding to bridge revenue gaps.

The paper stresses that ‘good governance does not in itself guarantee success on the sports field, but its absence almost certainly guarantees failure’.  Sporting organisations should understand that good governance is an enabler of performance, not a determinant.

Australian sport is complex because of its federal structure, but the ASC hopes that the paper will assist sporting organisations at every level to take a uniform approach, building trust among key stakeholders.

The paper encourages a unified and transparent approach to strategic planning, financial reporting, workforce management and commercial arrangements.  It recognises that voting structures require flexibility suited to the individual characteristics of the sport.

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