Governing bodies of sport

Governing bodies are an essential element of Scottish sport, and one that sportscotland recognises and values. In 2010/11 we invested more than £14.5 million directly in to Scottish Governing Bodies of sport (SGBs) to help them develop their sports.

What is a Scottish governing body of sport?

It is an organisation that governs and administers a sport in Scotland. Traditionally we have described SGBs as the guardians and custodians of their sport.

What does an SGB do?

An SGB carries out most, if not all, of the following*:

  • Prepares and implements a vision and strategic plan for the sport;
  • Promotes the sport;
  • Manages the rules and regulations of the sport, including anti-doping;
  • Administers officials of the sport;
  • Establishes and maintains links with the UK and international governing body / federation;
  • Encourages participation;
  • Develops coaches;
  • Develops athletes; and
  • Organises and hosts competitions.

* extracted from UK Sport: Investing in Change Report, July 2003

Role of an SGB

The main role of an SGB is to create a vision and deliver a strategic plan for the development and delivery of their sport, which determines how it will be implemented nationally, regionally and locally.


SGBs originated as a voluntary coming together of sports people (individuals, teams and club members) with a common purpose; to encourage and enable other participants to enjoy and progress in their chosen sport.


There is a great deal of diversity in governing body nature, but they are all autonomous, volunteer-managed, not-for-profit organisations. Increasingly, many governing bodies have paid staff in place. Membership

An SGB is a member organisation. Members can either affiliate direct as individuals or through their club. In many instances participants are affiliated to the governing body to enable them to compete in their sport and to be covered by insurance.


For SGBs to continue to play a major part in Scottish sport they must demonstrate the following**:

  • Strong accountability to members, funders and stakeholders;
  • Clear leadership of the sport;
  • Explicit roles and expectations to ensure optimum contribution from board members, paid staff, volunteers and players;
  • Modern and efficient plans for the long-term governance of the sport;
  • A commitment to ethical standards and fair play in all aspects of the sport;
  • Transparent and compliant systems for managing and administering the sport;
  • Appropriate legal structures for the organisation;
  • Diverse sources of revenue without over-dependence on one funder;
  • Partnership working with related organisations to deliver national priorities for sport; and,
  • A sport run with enthusiasm, energy and passion...

...which should all lead to increasing levels of participation and improving standards of performance in sport.

** extracted from Modern Sports Leadership and Governance Programme, July 2003

Date published: 03 October 2016
Date updated: 10 November 2016


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