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The impact of the UK Code for Sport Governance on national sport federations

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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  Dr B García  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


In 2017 the British government launched a Code for Sports Governance, setting the management and governance standards for national sport organisations. The code, published by UK Sport and Sport England, defines a number of good governance principles for sport organisations and sets the levels of democracy, transparency, accountability and financial integrity required for sport federations that want to apply for public money (through UK Sport and/or Sport England). The code was recently reviewed by UK Sport and Sport England in 2020, which led to moderate changes in its requirements

Good governance in sport has gained importance in recent years as a result of high-profile scandals in top international sport (e.g. corruption at FIFA, Russian doping scandal, sexual harassment of gymnasts in the US), but there have been similar governance-related problems in UK sport (e.g. accusations of bullying to athletes and unclear medical practices in British Cycling, financial problems in UK Athletics or Snow Sport UK).

Academic research on sports governance has mostly focused on two areas. There is an initial body of work interested in defining the governance principles and standards applicable to the context of sport and sport organisations. There is a second body of work that has developed tools to measure good governance in sport organisations, with the objective of assessing compliance of federations with governance standards. Most of this academic research has just focused merely on whether sport federations comply or not with the defined standards, but it has not engaged with the process of change and transformation for those organisations. Moreover, the empirical focus of the existing academic literature is mostly on the supranational level, that is on international sport federations. As most of the existing research focuses merely on the final output, there is a gap to understand the process of adaptation and how this is viewed and interpreted by the sport federations themselves. The relative lack or attention to the national level (i.e. UK sport federations), creates another gap in the existing research that this project aims to fill.

Thus, the objective of this project is to explore the way in which UK sport federations have adapted to the application of the UK Code for Sport Governance. This PhD will examine the impact that the new code for sport governance has had on national sport federations. It will research how these organisations have interpreted and implemented the provisions of the code, and the extent to which federations might have struggled to adapt to this new reality of UK sport. Research aims will focus on (1) barriers and challenges found by federations in adopting the code, (2) new governance practice in sport federations, (3) perceptions of the code for sport governance and its implementation process.

The project will follow a qualitative, mostly inductive, research design, as it seeks to find out the lived experience of those impacted by the application of the code. Research methods will include analysis of written sources and official documents, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. A period of participant observation in one federation might be integrated as part of the project.

This project is part of current research on sport integrity, policy and governance done under the Sport, Business and Society research theme in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. The successful candidate will contribute to a vibrant and world-leading group of experts in the social sciences of sport, and specially on sport policy and governance. The results of the project will inform practice in UK national sport federations and contribute to our understanding of the adaptation of these organisations.


Primary supervisor: Dr Borja García García


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

An Undergraduate Honours degree with a minimum classification of a 2.1, or equivalent, in the areas of Sport Management, Sport Sciences with Management, Social Sciences of Sport, Political Sciences, Business Management, Public Policy, or Law. Having a postgraduate degree in one of these areas will be an advantage.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding


All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select 'Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences'. Please quote the advertised reference number SSEHS/BG/1 in your application. To avoid delays in processing your application please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK FEE: £4,500 - Full-time degree per annum
INTERNATIONAL FEE: £24,100 - Full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.
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