Sarah takes the helm at UK Athletics

We’re delighted to see Sarah take up the role of Interim Chair at UK Athletics, at what is a critical time for the sport – and we wish her every success! See the media statement below for more details:

Merry Christmas!

As 2018 comes towards a close, Neil, Sarah and Simon would like to wish all our clients and friends a very merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2019. We’ve loved working with you this year, and look forward to continuing to do so over the next 12 months.

Summer update 2018

As another summer draws to a close, we’ve once again been kept busy by a wide variety of hugely enjoyable and fulfilling projects. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Sarah and Neil have been working on behalf of UK Sport to research the viability of a number of different models for the delivery of the Skeleton World Class Programme in the cycle to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022. This followed on from Sarah’s review of the governance and management of the Bobsleigh and Skeleton programme in the build-up to the 2018 Games, also on behalf of UK Sport. The research was well received by UK Sport, who thanked us for our “patience, expertise, acumen and professionalism throughout … all acknowledged what a thorough piece of work you have produced”
  • Also in connection with UK Sport, Sarah has continued to be part of the core delivery team working on Generation 24. This is an accelerated development programme for a cohort of selected individuals at the initial stage of their careers as coaches within elite Paralympic sport, who have been identified by their NGBs as having the potential to impact on medal-winning athletes in the 2020, 2022 and 2024 Olympic Games
  • Sarah and Neil have conducted a review of Sport Wales’s model for supporting coaching, coach education and development, in preparation for the new Vision for Sport in Wales which was launched in July. After consulting with around 30 NGBs, community sports organisations, universities and other stakeholders, and comparing theory and practices in the other home nations and overseas, we drafted recommendations for a new model of engagement and support. These have been accepted by Sport Wales and will form the basis of an action plan which will be included within their new organisational strategy
  • As in previous years we have delivered annual review processes for, respectively, the 14 England Rugby Regional Academies, on behalf of the RFU and Premiership Rugby Ltd; and of the ten Vitality Netball Superleague franchises, on behalf of England Netball. As we move into autumn, Neil will also be delivering the annual review of the 18 first-class cricket county talent pathways on behalf of the England & Wales Cricket Board
  • Sarah has been working with Basketball England on the revision and development of their Player Development Framework – while also continuing to serve as a mentor and adviser to a number of Performance Directors and senior coaches within Olympic, Paralympic and professional sports

In among all this Neil found time to visit Australia, where he visited NRL, Super Rugby and Super Netball franchises – while Sarah climbed the Eiger! All in all, a very satisfactory summer: please don’t hesitate to contact us if any of the above makes you think that our experience and expertise might be helpful to you.

Wharton Consulting and GDPR

As you’ll no doubt be aware, the General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) comes into force on Friday 25 May. We at Wharton Consulting hold an amount of personal data either as a result of work that we’ve done over the past few years, or because we have professional connections which we’ve generated through our normal course of business.

We hold on to some contact details because we value our network of connections within the world of sport, and we’d like to stay in touch with these people in future. We take our responsibility regarding the safety of information very seriously, and are fully committed to protecting it and being open and transparent about what we hold.

Our usual practice, subject to our clients’ agreement, is either to delete information which is generated through consultancy contracts as and when those contracts are completed; or to hold on to information for the purposes of client aftercare, in case that information is needed to support the implementation of a project. If the latter, we will retain the information for a reasonable period of time (until it is agreed that it is no longer needed, or the minimum six years which is required by the Companies Act).

The attached Privacy Policy sets out how we collect and manage data, and your rights in respect of that data. If you wish to know what data we hold on you, your organisation and stakeholders, or you wish that information to be deleted – or if you would like to see our Data Protection Policy, for more details on our internal processes for keeping your data safe – please don’t hesitate to contact Neil Tunnicliffe via the contact details given elsewhere within this website.

Wharton GDPR Privacy Policy – final, May 2018

Commonwealth Games reflections

As the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast draw to a close, we’ve been reflecting on some of the work that we’ve done over the past few years and the performance legacy that it has generated over the last couple of weeks. In particular, we’ve been delighted to see the following:

  • Wales achieving a second consecutive Games-best medal haul – 36 with 10 golds, following on from the same overall total in Glasgow in 2014. We conducted a review of performance and excellence sport in Wales on behalf of the Welsh Government in 2009. The following year we worked with Sport Wales to translate the recommendations of the review into an Elite Sport Strategy which set out the way that international performances would be driven and supported at the highest levels over the next decade. The implementation of that strategy has now produced back-to-back bests for Wales in Commonwealth Games – which we were thrilled to see
  • England winning netball gold. We first worked with England Netball in 2003 to review their performance system and make recommendations to improve it after that year’s World Netball Championships. We did similar reviews after the 2007 and 2011 WNC, and also examined the Under-21 programme after the 2009 World Youth Netball Championships – working with several of the players who won gold in 2018. At the same time we helped to overhaul the competition structure at all levels within the game, including the introduction and development of the Netball Superleague, to create a pathway and an environment in which the best players could progress from domestic to international levels – a supporting role that we’re continuing into this year. We couldn’t be prouder to see the products of this system now competing with the best in the world – and winning
  • England winning two bronze medals in hockey. We’ve conducted reviews with Great Britain Hockey after each of the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, which sought to debrief players and staff, reflect on performances, and capture learnings for the subsequent cycle. We were absolutely delighted to see the women win gold in Rio – and it was great to see both of the England teams continuing the medal-winning habit in Australia
  • England winning two bronze medals in Rugby Sevens. We were commissioned by the Rugby Football Union to research a Sevens strategy for the elite, talent development and recreational sectors in 2015 – one which was subsequently adopted by the Union to develop and support the growth of the game. Again, we were thrilled to see Simon Amor’s programme starting to produce consistent medal-winning performances at major events on the back of this strategy and its recommendations
  • Beach volleyball being staged at the Games – and England and Scotland players competing with distinction. We worked with the British Volleyball Federation in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games to get competitive Great Britain teams on court in indoor, beach and sitting volleyball – and it was wonderful to see some of the players identified and developed through that programme not only representing their countries on the Gold Coast, but challenging seriously for the podium

Success rarely happens overnight – and it’s been fantastic for us to see these and other clients past and present reap the benefits of the strategy work that they’ve done with us over the past 10-15 years. If you’d like to discuss how we might help you in a similar way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch through the contact details on our website.

February update

Another busy six months for Wharton Consulting, and 2018 continues to be no different. Since our last post, Neil has:

  • Worked with the ECB first to devise and then to deliver an annual process of review for the talent identification and development programmes in place within the 18 first-class cricket counties, providing individual reports for each county together with system-wide recommendations for the ECB
  • Conducted an independent review of the County and Satellite Academy programme being delivered by County Netball Associations on behalf of England Netball, with recommendations for the future of the programme from May 2018
  • Continued to serve as Company Secretary to the Great Britain Disability Football Association, working to support the Great Britain Blind team in its preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and to improve governance and management systems within the Association

Sarah’s workload has involved the following:

  • Continuing to support a number of UK Sport coach development initiatives focused on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond.  She is part of the core delivery team on ParaCoach 24 and is a mentor to a number of national coaches and performance directors
  • Supporting the RFU in the conduct of its review of the Women’s Championship, as a follow-on to our work around the establishment of the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition
  • On behalf of the International Netball Federation, delivering a review of international netball umpiring standards and processes to establish a benchmark for “world-class officiating” and create a target for future years against which the INF can measure performance
  • Continuing to provide technical support and expertise to the Sport England talent team and, on their behalf, identified National Governing Bodies around their athlete pathway development
  • On behalf of London Marathon Events, carrying out a review with recommendations for the future of the Elite Performance and Coaching Centre at St Mary’s, Twickenham
  • Conducting a review, with recommendations to UK Sport, on optimising the delivery of support to Wheelchair Fencing athletes via the EIS Managing Targeted Sports Programme
  • Continuing to serve as a NED at UK Athletics, and chair the organisation’s Performance Oversight Committee.  She is also heavily involved in the international development of mountain running, a joint initiative between the IAAF (where she is a member of the IAAF road running commission) and the World Mountain Running Association (where she is an elected Council member)

Simon’s governance work has seen him continue to support the National Ice Skating Association and the County Sports Partnership in Derbyshire as both organisations undergo extensive and long-term modernisation. For more information on any of these projects, or on how we might support you, please feel free to get in touch through the contact details provided on this website.

Summer update

As we pause for breath in August, there’s lots of positive work to reflect on since our last update in February. Neil has:

  • On behalf of The Football Association, conducted a review of competition structures in women’s and girls’ football, at all levels from Mini-Soccer to the Women’s Super League, and with a focus on youth football, the transition into adult football, and the league pyramid within the adult game. Following an extensive consultation exercise, recommendations were submitted at the beginning of June, and were subsequently approved in principle by The FA’s Women’s Football Board. A further phase of consultation and implementation will begin in September
  • Delivered the annual audit of the RFU’s 14 England Rugby Academies for a fifth successive year, assessing their structures and processes in respect of leadership and governance, staffing, coaching, player development, lifestyle and education development, and financial management. Reports were filed in April, and action plans agreed with each Academy in May
  • Devised and delivered an audit process for the ten teams who contest the Vitality Netball Superleague, assessing their fulfilment of the minimum operating standards which apply within the competition, as well as their adherence to the salary cap
  • Supported the Irish Rugby Football Union in reviewing progress in the delivery of its national development strategy, through a series of workshop meetings with development staff in each of the four Irish provinces
  • Continued to work with the Welsh Rugby Union to implement the recommendations of the review of the School Hub programme, through the redrafting of documentation to reflect a new vision, objectives and desired outcomes

For her part, Sarah has:

  • Continued to support a number of UK Sport coach development initiatives focused on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond, both strategically and as part of the delivery team working with coaches – and to act as a mentor to a number of national coaches and performance administrators
  • Supported the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences with their accreditation process and, on their behalf, has been working to enhance applied professional standards in elite sport with other organisations
  • On behalf of England Hockey, conducted an analysis of the gap between the domestic game and international hockey both in England and in the principal international (European and non-European) competitors, to generate high-quality empirical evidence as the basis for change at domestic level
  • Sarah has also recently been elected on to the Council of the World Mountain Running Association and, combining that with her role on the IAAF Road Running Commission, is part of a small working group looking to develop that branch of the sport at a world level

Simon has continued his work around the governance structure of the County Sports Partnership in Derbyshire, and has also been engaged with the National Ice Skating Association of UK to review and revise its constitution in response to the new national code for sports governance. Proposals for change have been prepared and submitted to NISA’s AGM later in August.

We have a busy autumn in prospect, as we embark on new projects with the International Netball Federation, England Netball, and the England and Wales Cricket Board, to name but three. A further update will appear when we next come up for air!

Women’s Super Rugby

The work that we’ve been doing with the RFU towards a new competition structure for women’s rugby took a big step forward today with this announcement:

February update

It’s been a busy time over the past six months, as our consultants have been engaged across a wide variety of projects. Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been up to. Neil has:

  • Completed an independent review of the Great Britain hockey programme, including participating in post-Rio debriefs with the two teams, and making recommendations to the GBHL Board on improvements for the Tokyo cycle
  • Conducted a review of the Welsh Rugby Union’s school-hub programme, wherein development officers have been embedded in schools to promote the playing of rugby since 2014. As a separate but related strand, Neil also facilitated a review of the WRU’s player pathway for men’s rugby
  • Begun a wholesale review of The Football Association’s domestic competition structure for women’s football
  • Seen proposals for a new player pathway and coaching support structure approved at committee stage by the Golfing Union of Ireland
  • Following the commencement of the new BUCS Super Rugby competition, evaluated the eight participating universities for their fulfilment of the minimum operating standards for the league

For her part, Sarah has been engaged in the following:

  • Continued to provide mentoring support to individuals on the ECAP, Future Leaders and Elite UK Sport development programmes
  • On behalf of British Fencing, undertook the initial feasibility and design work around their talent development centre concept, and is currently working on the establishment phase
  • As part of the delivery team, researched, refined and evolved the UK Sport ParaCoach programme to ensure it continues to match NGB requirements in the Tokyo cycle
  • On behalf of Sport England, acted as an independent expert to assist with the assessment of NGB bids for talent funding

We’re as busy as ever with some exciting projects heading into the spring, so watch this space for further updates.

June headlines

Some snippets to summarise what we’ve been up to over the first five or six months of this year – during which time we have among other things:

  • Continued to work with UK Sport and Sport England on secondment, supporting respectively the planning process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the drafting of a new sports governance framework in response to the Government’s “Sporting Future” strategy for sport
  • Completed our work with Ice Hockey UK, following the appointment of a new Independent Chair and non-executive directors, as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of governance structures and the creation of a new strategic framework
  • Staged a workshop with over 30 representatives of the Golfing Union of Ireland to share our findings and recommendations regarding their coaching structure and processes
  • Conducted the annual review of the 14 England Rugby Regional Academies on behalf of the RFU and Premiership Rugby Ltd
  • Completed the annual review of the four Branches of the Irish Rugby Football Union for their delivery of their responsibilities to develop the game at community level
  • Supported England Netball in the development and delivery of a process to retender for places within the Netball Superleague for 2017 and beyond
  • Worked with the RFU, Students RFU and BUCS to develop a National League for the leading university rugby teams, for launch in autumn 2016
  • Continue to support a number of sports, performance directors and head coaches via one-to-one mentoring as well as professional development programmes in the build up to Rio and Tokyo
  • Completed the planning for the new British Fencing elite coach development plan, and continue to work with the sport to support its implementation
  • Sarah has also been preparing to attend her first meeting as a member of the new IAAF road running commission