UK sports bodies continue to invest broadcast revenues into grassroots sport under Voluntary Code

Voluntary Code ()

Despite the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, some of the country’s largest sporting bodies invested £123.2m into the long-term development of their sports in the last year.

The commitment forms part of the Voluntary Code of Conduct on the Broadcasting of Major Sporting Events, which is administered and supported by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

The Code requires signatories to put a minimum of 30% of net broadcasting revenues back into their respective sports and to make their events available to free-to-air broadcasters in live, recorded or highlights format so they can be viewed more widely.

The 2020/21 compliance period was hugely challenging for all signatories with a number of events postponed, rearranged or cancelled due to the pandemic.

However, despite these challenges and disruption, signatories still made significant investment into grassroots sport, including supporting community clubs whilst COVID-19 restrictions required many activities to cease.

Signatories also displayed agility in their investment, moving programmes online and developing new tools to support people to be physically active during lockdown.

The Football Association, the Rugby Football League, the Rugby Football Union, the R&A and the Lawn Tennis Association (jointly with the All England Lawn Tennis Club on behalf of The Championships, Wimbledon) were assessed as compliant with both requirements of the Code.

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) level of reinvestment was below the 30% level and it was therefore assessed as compliant with the accessibility principle only.

However, the Committee noted that a number of the ECB’s planned development programmes could not take place due to COVID-19 restrictions which resulted in the reinvestment being lower than planned.

The Committee also noted the ECB’s positive record on reinvestment and continuing commitment to meeting the 30% threshold in the coming year.

Bodies who are signatories to the accessibility principle only, and were compliant in this regard, were the European Tour, the Premier League and UK Athletics.

Commenting on the year’s review of Code compliance, Chair Jon Zeff said: “This has undoubtedly been a difficult year for signatories with the disruption and uncertainty around events and the knock-on effect on broadcast revenues.

“It was pleasing to see the continued commitment to reinvestment of broadcast revenues, especially the emergency support offered to grassroots clubs and the innovative approaches taken to keep the nation active. Ensuring that, wherever possible, the biggest sporting events are available free-to-air, allows these events to be enjoyed by everybody.

“The commitment to the Code, even during these challenging times, highlights the important link between revenues generated by elite, professional sport, and support for all levels of the sporting pyramid and development of further opportunities for increasing participation.”