sports development

sport & physical activity academic resources

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Modernisation and sport: The reform of Sport England and UK Sport.

E-mail Print

Over the past 20 years one of the constant themes in sport policy discussions has been the fragmentation, fractiousness and perceived ineffectiveness of organizations within the sport policy area. While much of government’s focus has been on the inadequacies of the national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) the main national agencies of government have also been subject to sustained criticism both by the major political parties and by NGBs. The sports councils that cover England, currently Sport England and UK Sport, have been reviewed at least seven times in the last two decades with a new round of criticism, mainly from NGBs, but also from the Central Council of Physical Recreation and the British Olympic Association, prompted by the award of the 2012 Olympic Games to London. Over the years the critics have accused the sports councils of being: unresponsive to the needs of their clients; overly bureaucratic and complex, especially in relation to the accessing of funds; and incoherent due to overlapping responsibilities, the lack of strategic clarity and the generation of an excess of, often short-term, initiatives. In brief, the national sports system has long been seen as in serious need of reform.

However, the discussion of reform of the national sports system in general and the modernisation of Sport England and UK Sport in particular needs to be located alongside a number of recent analyses of change in domestic sport policy. Macro-level analyses have emphasized variously the significance for domestic policy of globalisation (Houlihan 2004; Maguire 1999), the intensification of the commodification of sport (Gerrard 2004), and the symbolic significance of elite sporting success (Green and Houlihan 2005). Meso-level analyses have sought to explain policy change in terms of tensions between national and local policy actors (McDonald 1995), the weakness of the policy community (Roche 1993), the emergence of advocacy coalitions (Green and Houlihan 2004), the opportunities presented for policy entrepreneurs within a policy sector with few interests strongly rooted within the machinery of government (Houlihan and Green 2006), and the interplay of competing policy discourses (McDonald 2000; Penney and Evans 1999). The following discussion of the government’s concern with institutional modernisation in relation to sport complements and informs many of these macro and meso-level analyses, but also provides an opportunity to evaluate the significance of modernisation as an independent variable in the explanation of sport policy.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments - [  The election of the Labour Government in 1997 committed to modernisation of public policy making and of the institutions of government was unlikely to leave the sport policy infrastructure undisturbed. The aim of this article is to evaluate the impact of New Labour’s modernisation project (cf. Finlayson, 2003a, 2003b) on two key non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) for sport, Sport England and UK Sport.

Although published in 2009, this excellent paper was constructed prior to the publication of Playing to Win: A new era for sport in 2008. 5 stars from us! and another third year lecture [or two] in the bag. ]  Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>

In the text: Cryer (year)


APA reference for this document


Reference : Houlihan, B. Green, M. (2009). Modernisation and sport: The reform of Sport England and UK Sport. Loughborough: PSA


The above reference is in the APA style: See why this is important in our [how to reference] us guide.


Download this document [Use of this document may be limited by © copyright ; by downloading you consent to our terms and conditions ]


Download this file (reformseuks.pdf)reformseuks.pdfHoulihan, B. Green, M. (2009). Modernization and sport: The reform of Sport England and UK Sport. Loughborough: PSA
Last Updated on Saturday, 15 August 2009 06:25  

Student Zone