Having grown up in Britain in the Margaret Thatcher era this writer was never a fan of the Iron Lady. I was however interested to read a supplement compiled by the Independent newspaper correcting many of the myths that surrounded the British leader.
One fact of which I was never aware as I was not in fact born was her proposing of the Public Bodies Bill in 1960, which she introduced in her maiden speech a year after being elected as the MP for Finchley. No doubt you are asking what this has to do with sport?
The Public Bodies Bill was passed and meant that the press were admitted into local government meetings for the first time. It is something that is readily accepted today, but maybe such a bill needs to be passed when it comes to the governing bodies of sport. Sport is big business today, and millions of dollars are invested and spent, some of it is spent wisely some of it mis-spent, and some simply squandered. Surely those who pay club memberships and registration fees as clubs or individuals deserve to have a greater insight into the way in which this money, government grants and sponsorship monies are spent?
In her speech back in 1960 she said “The public has the right… to know what its elected representatives are doing.” For elected representatives in sport many can look at the board elected to run their particular game, some do in fact have stakeholders on the board, which makes a great deal of sense.
She went on to say ” The first purpose in admitting the press is that we may know how those monies are being spent… The paramount function of this distinguished house is to safeguard civil liberties rather than to think administrative convenience should take first place in law.”
Have sporting organisations the same responsibilities as local councils? Of course they don’t and the budgets are light years apart. However people today invest a great deal of time in sport be it watching it, playing it, coaching it, volunteering, driving children to games, officiating etcetera, and all of these people deserve to know what money is coming in and from whom, and how it is being spent.
If the Federal Government is giving the governing body “x” million dollars per year, how much of that is being filtered down to support juniors, women, disability programs and other areas around the country? Surely people have a right to know?
Many sports are transparent in their financial dealings, but far too many are not, and when the board and staff are seen at the top table at major events in their sports many begin to ask whether too much is being spent at the wrong end of the game.
Maybe such a bill is needed within the sporting landscape, maybe it isn’t, but its certainly worth thinking about…