Wharton Consulting’s service draws on years of practical experience and expertise garnered at the highest level of international and British professional sport. All our consultants have held senior management positions within national or international governing bodies of sport, or within key support agencies.

Dr Neil Tunnicliffe

  • Formerly Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League between 1998 and 2000, where he was responsible for the RFL’s first-ever business plan, its World Class Plan, its facilities development programme, and the much-imitated “Framing the Future” minimum standards legislation and the “Tackle It” anti-racism campaign.
  • Neil’s other achievements at the RFL include securing the 2000 Rugby League World Cup for Great Britain, negotiating new broadcast contracts with the BBC and Sky Sports worth £26.9 million, reviewing and restructuring the RFL’s headquarters administration, and reviewing and redrafting the game’s by-laws.
  • As a consultant, Neil has been a World Class Adviser to UK Sport and Sport England, and has recently worked with UK Sport across a total of 13 Olympic and Paralympic sports to advise and support their planning, preparations and systems-building for London 2012. Other headline projects have included:
    • Review of the Welsh Assembly Government’s strategy for performance and excellence sport in Wales in 2009
    • Reviews of Ireland’s Olympic and Paralympic programmes and performances in Athens in 2004, and in Beijing in 2008
    • Research and formulation of national strategies for elite sport in Ireland (2008-13) and Wales (2010-16) on behalf of the Irish Sports Council and Sport Wales
  • In working with over 40 national governing bodies of sport, ranging from the Rugby Football Union and Lawn Tennis Association to Archery GB and British Wrestling, Neil’s achievements include:
    • The formulation and authorship of the Rugby Football League’s Whole Sport Plan 2009-13 submission to Sport England, which was awarded funding of £27.6 million
    • The foundation of three new national governing bodies of sport, the Great Britain Boccia Federation, the Great Britain Disability Football Association, and the Great Britain Women’s Football Association
    • The establishment and development of the Netball Superleague, Tyrrells Premier 15s, and BUCS Super Rugby
  • Much of Neil’s current workload is provided by the Rugby Football Union and England & Wales Cricket Board, for whom he is engaged to conduct a quality-assurance and development programme for their respective Academy networks, by means of an annual process of audit and review.
  • Neil has written policy documents for the British Government which led to the creation of both the Sports Grounds Initiative and a Voluntary Code of Conduct for all sports governing bodies for the sale of broadcasting rights.
  • He has also served on a number of Government and Sports Council reviews, including the Foster Review of athletics, the Cox Review of hockey, and the Mallin Review of basketball. In 2004 he served as an expert contributor to the National Audit Office’s review of UK Sport: Supporting Elite Athletes.

Dr Sarah Rowell   FBASES

  • Has an outstanding record as an athlete and sports scientist and performance enhancer, whose many distinguished athletics achievements  include participation in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where she finished 14th in the marathon – an event where she also held the British record.
  • Sarah was an appointed Director of UK:Athletics between 2012 and 2020, including a period as Chair in 2019. While on the Board she chaired the Performance Oversight Committee and was a member of the Remuneration and HR Committee. During this time she also served on the Board of London Marathon Events, which organises the London Marathon portfolio of events. Between 2006 and 2014 she was heavily involved in the establishment and management of British Weightlifting’s performance arm. She sat on the BWL Board where she was involved in restructuring and related developments to ensure that the organisation fully met the UK Sport governance requirements of the time.
  • At an international level Sarah served as a member of the IAAF (now WA) Road Running Commission and is currently an elected member of the World Mountain Running Association Council (its highest governing body) where she leads on coach development.
  • Sarah has over 20 years’ experience of developing and delivering applied non-technical skills programmes for practitioners and coaches, including the UK Sport/EIS Practitioner Development Programme – which accelerated the development of identified young practitioners, many of whom now hold leadership positions within the industry – and, more recently, the UK Sport Tokyo 1st programme. She also co-authored the book ‘Achieving Excellence in High Performance Sport’ which was published in July 2012 by Bloomsbury.
  • She provides mentoring and performance support to senior executive staff, Performance Directors, team and individual coaches in both Olympic/Paralympic and professional sports, many of whom have coached medal-winning athletes. She regularly mentors individuals on UK Sport programmes such as Elite Coach, Future Leaders, and Elite Coach Apprentice Programme, as well as providing bespoke one-to-one support on request.
  • As a consultant, key pieces of work which Sarah has undertaken include:
    • Working with British Surfing and Goalball UK to develop their UK Sport Paris 2024 cycle funding submissions
    • A review of TASS’s remit and functions, making recommendations to ensure the programme is fit for purpose to support talented young English athletes prior to their joining the WCP
    • Providing advisory and governance support on behalf of UK Sport to the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association
    • Annual quality assurance reviews of the Vitality Netball Superleague clubs
    • Providing technical support and expertise to the Sport England Talent team, including around the development of athlete/coach curricula, including working closely with English Basketball to develop their new player pathway offer
    • Providing technical support to UK Sport to support unfunded sports develop their funding applications for the Tokyo cycle
    • Undertaking reviews for British Triathlon and British Fencing around their coaching pathways, and supporting Archery GB to develop their new organisational strategy
  • Sarah served as National Technical Consultant to the English Institute of Sport from October 2001 to March 2006, where she worked with the national management team, providing technical (science and medicine) and strategic advice, policy development and implementation in respect of the service/support programmes on offer to Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
  • Prior to joining Wharton Consulting Sarah was employed by the National Coaching Foundation to run the UK Sports Science Education and Sports Science Support Programmes. She was the editor of their coaching publication between 1989 and 2008.
  • She also served as a World Class Adviser to Sport England and UK Sport, and worked on the monitoring and evaluation of a number of Olympic / performance programmes.

Simon Le Fevre  MBAsimon_le_fevre

  • Simon was Head of Investment and Governance for UK Sport between 2009 and 2011, from where he:
    • managed the team responsible for grant-aid payments to sports bodies, strategic partners, and athletes;
    • ensured compliance with grant-aid agreements, including through the conduct of management audits;
    • project-managed governance solutions for the sports bodies funded by UK Sport;
    • inputted into strategy and investment decisions; and
    • was the key contact for corporate relationships with strategic partners such as sports coach UK
  • Prior to that Simon was Head of Performance Operations at UK Sport from 2006, in which role he was responsible for operations, budget management and resources within the Performance Directorate, including line management of the team responsible for the delivery of development programmes to elite coaches and sports science practitioners, and the annual World Class Coaching Conference
  • Simon came to UK Sport from a financial services background in the City, where he fulfilled a series of senior team management roles within Gartmore Investment Management and, prior to that, NatWest Investment Management
  • Simon is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and also holds an MBA in International Business & Banking and a Post Graduate Diploma in Voluntary Sector Management from the Business School of City, University of London
  • Simon’s involvement in sport includes past membership of the Board of the Amateur Swimming Association (now Swim England) and past chairmanship of its associated charity, the national Swimming Trust. In September 2020, Simon stepped down after completing nine years in his voluntary roles as a Trustee and as the Chair of the Governance & Finance Committee of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby.
  • As a consultant with Wharton Consulting since 2011, Simon has been involved in governance projects including:
    • Board evaluation, development and restructuring within England Handball
    • Project-managing UK Sport’s governance evaluation of the British Amateur Boxing Association
    • Contributing governance assessments to the British Olympic Association’s review of Olympic Winter Sports
    • Upgrading the corporate governance arrangements for Derbyshire Sport, as a county sports partnership hosted by Derbyshire County Council
    • Supporting Derbyshire Sport to come together with Sport Notts to form Active Partners Trust as an independent charitable active partnership, including undertaking the registration of the shared legal entity as a company limited by guarantee
    • Corporate governance upgrading, including facilitating the drafting and adoption of revised Articles of Association, for the National Ice Skating Association of the UK (now trading as British Ice Skating)
    • Providing corporate governance restructuring and project management support to bring Northumberland Sport and Tyne & Wear Sport together, within a shared charitable legal entity, as the North-North-East Active Partnership.

Our Associates

Wharton Consulting has a variety of associates with whom it shares projects where additional and complementary expertise is required. These include:

  • David Meli – All About Sport Ltd
  • John Krafts – Kraft HR Consulting Ltd
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