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Recognition of new governing bodies or sport disciplines

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For sports and national governing bodies to be officially recognised in the UK, they must be approved through a formal application process.

Recognition is a joint policy, operated by the four Home Country Sports Councils (Sport Wales, Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Scotland) and UK Sport. Applications for recognition of a sport and a national governing body for that sport are dealt with by these organisations in partnership, as a UK Recognition panel.

Applications must be approved by all the home country sports councils, with the following exceptions:

  • Where a National Governing Body operates in a single Home Country, recognition of the body requires the approval of that country's Sports Council only
  • UK Sport also needs to approve applications where an Olympic or Paralympic sport or NGB is being considered.
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What is a sport?

The Sports Councils do not decide what is and what is not a sport.

There are many different opinions as to what constitutes a sporting activity and the sports councils do not have their own definition of sport. However, we operate a recognition process to establish which sports we may consider working with.

When deciding whether to recognise a sport, the sports councils look to see if it meets the Council of Europe's European Sports Charter 1993 definition of sport and if the sport is well established and organised within our jurisdiction.

What is a National Governing Body?

It is not the role of the Sports Councils to establish or appoint national governing bodies. National governing bodies are typically independent, self-appointed organisations that govern their sports through the common consent of their sport.

The aim of the recognition process is to identify a single lead national governing body structure which governs a sport at UK, GB or home country level. Our recognition criteria focus on establishing if a national governing body has achieved a position of pre-eminence within its sport and if it has a reasonable level of organisation and governance. 

Sports council recognition of a national governing body is not a guarantee of funding and neither does it mean we have approved or accredited the quality of its programmes.

Recognition does not bestow any official powers on a national governing body to govern its sport nor does it guarantee direct financing of the established governing body.

Sports Councils' Recognition Application Process

The UK recognition policy and application process is currently under review and more information will be shared on this page once it is complete. 

Currently, the recognition application process is divided into two stages:

  • Pre-application: assessing sporting activity and governance
  • Full application: assessing wider issues such as competition structure, sporting and NGB development and sporting injury risk management

Guidance for applicants

If you are considering making an application, you should:

  • Read the recognition policy as this contains essential information. For further details or to access an application form, please contact [javascript protected email address]. For bodies based in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland you should refer to the Recognition sections on the relevant Home Country Sports Council websites.
  • Your pre-application will be considered by the UK Recognition Panel and we will aim to contact you with the outcome within 12 weeks from the date we receive it.
  • If you are successful at the pre-application stage, you will progress to the full application stage. Before submitting your full application, you will be required to meet with a representative from the UK Recognition Panel to discuss your application and, following the meeting you will be provided with the full application form to complete and return within 12 months.

Which sports and governing bodies do we currently recognise?

The sports and governing bodies currently recognised by the Sports Council’s in the UK can be found here.  

Also, in interest of safety, groups taking part in the following sports high risk sports must be affiliated to their sport’s governing body in order to be considered for grant support.