In the UK there is no single recognised legal structure required for national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport. Some countries, like France and Germany, have a specific legal structure which set out the governance requirement for all NGBs.

National governing bodies of sport in the UK can choose their own bespoke legal form which will be one of the following:

  • unincorporated associations
  • trusts
  • limited companies
  • community interest companies
  • charitable incorporated organisations.

Each legal form imposes different requirements and statutes on the organisation. Therefore, the board structures and requirements will vary in accordance to which legal structure an NGB has chosen.

For example, if the NGB is a registered charity then it will be regulated by the Charity Commission and certain requirements in relation to trustees will be mandatory .

But if the NGB is registered as a company, then it will need to comply with the 2006 Companies Act and it will be regulated by Companies House.

National governing bodies will, in the majority of the cases, operate as not-for-profit organisations.

Consequently any surpluses will be reinvested into the NGB for the purposes of the NGB rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and/or owners.

Regardless of being not-for-profit the NGB will still have to conform to the same legal requirements as private for-profit companies organised within the same legal structure.

To comply with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), your organisation must ensure that it has the correct legal structure.

It's worth examining which structure best suits the way your organisation operates as this will affect:

  • the tax and National Insurance that you pay
  • the records and accounts that you have to keep
  • your financial liability in the event of insolvency 
  • the ways your business can raise money
  • the way management decisions are made about the business.

Below and on the pages in this section (which you can access on the left hand menu) you will find information on the pros and cons of each legal structure for you and for any clubs within your structure.

You will also be able to access examples of consitutions from other NGBs to help you benchmark your own governing document.

A guide for trustees and board members to help choose the legal and governance structures for an organisation.
A guide to the pros and cons of different legal forms and structures for sports clubs.
A guide to club structures by the FA for football clubs.
The Volleyball England articles of association
Clay Pigeon Shooting Association articles of association.
The Scottish Hockey Union articles of association.
This document gives employment law guidance to rugby clubs and was commissioned by the RFU.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance commissioned a set of model articles to be created for sport with guidance notes on how to adapt them.
The model articles for sports organisations in a form which can be edited.

To receive the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s free daily sports news summary, a round-up of the day’s most interesting and informative news articles on sport and recreation, including links to original sources, email