The definition of Good Governance varies throughout different countries and sectors of industry; Sport Northern Ireland has identified key characteristics and codes transferable to the sport sector:

“Good Governance has 8 major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus orientated, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and, follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.”
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN) (2009), ‘What is Good Governance.”  Available from:

Good Governance Codes

Sport Northern Ireland has identified a number of codes that may be of interest to the sport sector in Northern Ireland including:

An effective board will provide good governance and leadership by:

  1. Understanding its role and responsibilities
  2. Working well both as individuals and as a team
  3. Ensuring delivery of organisational purpose
  4. Exercising appropriate control
  5. Behaving with integrity and by being open and accountable

Further information is available on the NICVA website and Sports Governance Guide NI

    1. Integrity: Acting as Guardians of the Sport, Recreation, Activity or Area
    2. Defining and Evaluating the Role of the Board
    3. Delivery of Vision, Mission and Purpose
    4. Objectivity: Balanced, Inclusive and Skilled Board
    5. Standards, Systems and Controls
    6. Accountability and Transparency
    7. Understanding and Engaging with the Sporting Landscape

From April 2017 a mandatory Governance Code for Sport in the UK was finalised for organisations seeking Government and National Lottery funding from Sport England or UK Sport.  The introduction of the Code is one of the targets within the UK Government’s ‘Sporting Future: A new strategy for an Active Nation’, launched in December 2015.

The Code has three tiers and is proportionate to the amount of funding requested by organisations; it has introduced five principles of good governance:

1. Structure – Organisations shall have a clear and appropriate governance structure, led by a Board which is collectively responsible for the long-term success of the organisation and exclusively vested with the power to lead it. The Board shall be properly constituted, and shall operate effectively.

2. People – Organisations shall recruit and engage people with appropriate diversity, independence, skills, experience and knowledge to take effective decisions that further the organisation’s goals.

3. Communication – Organisations shall be transparent and accountable, engaging effectively with stakeholders and nurturing internal democracy.

4. Standards and Conduct – Organisations shall uphold high standards of integrity, and engage in regular and effective evaluation to drive continuous improvement.

5. Policies and Processes – Organisations shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations, undertake responsible financial strategic planning, and have appropriate controls and risk management procedures.

Further information is available on the UK Sport website (

Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland ( All community and charitable organisations in Ireland are encouraged to adopt the code of practice. It aims to define good practice and inform both funders and regulators. The objective of adoption is to reassure funders that investment is being managed by a well-run organisation; increase transparency; help avoid serious risks; and help organisations achieve their goals faster and reduce costs.

Sport Northern Ireland’s governance work supports the key principles outlined by the United Nations and by the codes. However, the challenge for all organisations is to translate the principles and good practice promoted in the documents into embedded behaviours and practices that are ‘lived’ by those in key leadership positions in sports organisations.