BAFA Board Announce Exciting Next Step In Delivering On Strategy


Sport England investment has been secured to help BAFA create a paid CEO role and move towards the governance requirements for future funding.

Some exciting changes are ahead for BAFA as part of the next stage of delivering on our strategic plan and to make sure we become a modern, fit-for-purpose National Governing Body.


What’s changing?

The biggest and most visible change will be the creation of a paid Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position, reporting directly to the BAFA board. This will be a commercially focused role with the core objective of making sure we have a sport that is run efficiently, transparently and in line with best practice.

Having a CEO with responsibility for running BAFA day-to-day will allow the board to ensure we meet the governance and reporting requirements needed to secure Sport England funding. We also believe this will make us more efficiently and effectively run as a sport and focused on meeting the needs of our members. We aim to have the new CEO in place by 1 September 2019.

Going forward, our existing commission lead and manager roles will report to the new CEO, freeing up the BAFA board to be truly strategic, keeping them independent and ensuring we are well governed. It also means our passionate volunteer workforce – the people who undertake the many tasks and activities needed to deliver and grow our sport – will have more dedicated support and management, giving them a better experience of being part of BAFA.

Once our new CEO is in role, there will be further organisational changes to continue to strengthen our structure as an NGB, and in turn, our sport. These changes will facilitate further growth and put greater emphasis on development, regional participation and our National Programme. These will be communicated in due course.


Why are we doing this?

Governance is one of the four major objectives of BAFA’s 2017-2021 strategic plan and moving towards Sport England’s Code for Sports Governance was one of our agreed year one actions. By appointing a CEO to free the board up to concentrate on achieving this, we’re delivering on what you empowered us to do as a new board at the BAFA AGM last year. This will ensure the board is truly independent and compliant with Sport England’s Tier 3 Corporate Governance Code.

Organisations seeking public funding for sport through Sport England must meet new gold standards of governance, which are among the most advanced in the world. If we can meet these standards, the funding we receive could be game-changing – enabling us to do so much more, particularly for our National Programme.  After discussions with Sport England, it has become clear that moving away from a 100% volunteer workforce and having a structure that includes a CEO role is best practice for an NGB looking to achieve this.

At the beginning of the year, Sport England announced investment in a further ten NGBs. These included Softball Baseball UK who received £1,000,000 to maintain and develop their participant base while the British Fencing Association received £424,000 to support their athlete development model. We want a future where the British American Football Association appears on such a list.

It’s also clear that the business of sport has changed rapidly in recent years and requires National Governing Bodies that are constituted and equipped to support complex, commercial, multi-disciplinary and high-profile decision making. We need to be brave and react to that change in our environment or be left behind.


The hiring process

As this is a big change for BAFA we want to be fully transparent on the costs involved and the process for hiring.

We know that finding the right person is critical to the success of this plan so we’re following Sport England’s recommendation to appoint an executive search agency to identify suitable candidates.

As a huge sign of their faith in BAFA’s ability to meet the requirements of their governance code, Sport England are investing £10,000 towards the cost of the recruitment process.  This is in line with the market cost to find and hire a CEO for a national governing body of sport. We will be offering a salary of circa £50,000 per annum – comparable with average salaries currently on offer to the CEOs of other small NGBs.

We know this seems like a lot of money. Especially to those of you involved in areas of our sport struggling to secure their own funding, or who are one of our talented athletes or coaches who have to pay to participate in National Programme activity. But we believe a strong hire for this role should be paying for themselves, and bringing funding into BAFA, within the first year.

As an illustration of their support for this move, we are delighted to share the news that representatives from the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to sit on the interview panel, alongside BAFA chair Nichole McCulloch and other members of the BAFA board. Sport England will be also participating in the interview process.


Steve Rains to step away from BAFA

Following the decision to create a paid CEO role, Operations Director Steve Rains has decided to step away from BAFA, effective 31 May.  As a board, we’re disappointed to lose Steve’s experience and passion for our sport. However, we respect his decision and thank him for all his hard work and for his professionalism during the handover of his role and we hope he remains active within the sport.

In the interim, Clive Dobbin will be looking after Steve’s role until the new CEO is in place to start the process for recruiting a permanent replacement. During this time our commission leads and managers will be stepping up to take more ownership for decision making in their own areas of responsibility, with additional support and guidance from BAFA board members.


Next steps

We appreciate this is a bold new direction for BAFA, but we hope you’ll agree it’s an exciting next step in our journey. We appreciate this news may cause concerns for some and raise many questions for others. We’ve created a Q&A document to answer some of your more immediate questions.

If you have any questions not already answered in the Q&A document, or you have any concerns or other feedback, please contact us at  We will collect your questions and comments and aim to share a follow-up Q&A responding to any common themes within the next fortnight.

Over the coming weeks we also plan to share an update on BAFA finances and what else the board has been working on in recent months.


Nichole McCulloch
BAFA Chair, on behalf of the BAFA Board



Read the Q&A below, or mobile and tablet users can download it to their device.





Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1