Our People

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 35 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 two new national governing bodies of sport, the Great Britain Boccia Federation and the Great Britain Disability Football Association
    • The establishment and development of the Netball Superleague
  • 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   


  • 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 holds a PhD in sports science, and is an Elected Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences, she now specialises in high performance people and systemic development
  • Sarah is currently an appointed Director of UK:Athletics, with a specific responsibility for performance, and she also serves as a non-executive Director of the London Marathon. In a voluntary capacity she heads up mountain running within UK:Athletics and serves on the European Athletics Mountain Running Commission
  • Since 2006 Sarah has been involved in the initial establishment and subsequent management of British Weightlifting’s performance arm. She sits on the BWL Board where, as well as having responsibility for performance, she has been heavily involved in recent re-structuring and related developments to ensure that the organisation fully meets the UK Sport governance requirements
  • As a consultant, key pieces of work which Sarah has undertaken include: 
    • Over eight years’ experience in developing and mentoring practitioners and coaches within the high performance system, most recently being appointed as a UK Sport recognised mentor and to their Coach Support Specialist panel. She is currently working with UK Sport on their ParaCoach 2 Rio programme.
    • Undertaking a review of British Swimming’s Long Term Athlete Development strategy
    • Domestic competition reviews for both British Canoeing and Welsh Athletics
    • On behalf of British Ski and Snowboard, an independent review of their 2014 Olympic selection policy 
    • The conceptual development and subsequent establishment of the Institute of Youth Sport on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust
  • 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 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 – a role in which she advised the Sports Councils and sports governing bodies on performance planning. She also worked as 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 Fevresimon_le_fevre

  • Simon was Head of Investment & Governance for UK Sport between 2009 and 2011, from where he:
    • Managed the team responsible for grant payments to sports bodies, strategic partners and athletes
    • Ensured compliance with funding agreements, including through the commissioning of management audits
    • Project-managed governance solutions with sports bodies funded by UK Sport, ranging from NGB corporate re-structuring to investment in athlete accommodation
    • Provided input into strategy and investment decisions and project-managed the introduction of UK Sport’s internal investment committee
    • Was the key contact for corporate relationships with strategic partners such as sports coach UK, Sport Resolutions UK and TASS
    • Worked with his opposite number at Sport England to develop the ‘Things to Think About’ self-help governance tool for NGBs on UK Sport and Sport England’s websites
  • Prior to that Simon was Head of Performance Operations from 2006, in which role he also managed the team responsible for the delivery of UK Sport’s development programmes to elite coaches and sports science practitioners, and the annual World Class Coaching Conference
  • Simon came to UK Sport from the City, where he fulfilled a series of senior team management roles within Gartmore Investment Management and, prior to that, NatWest Investment Management
  • Simon holds an MBA in International Business & Banking and a Post Graduate Diploma in Voluntary Sector Management from the Sir John Cass Business School of City University, London
  • Simon’s involvement in sport includes past membership of the Board of the Amateur Swimming Association and past chairmanship of its associated charity, the national Swimming Trust. As a volunteer, he is currently a Trustee of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby and Chair of GBWR’s Governance and Finance Sub-Committee
  • As a consultant, Simon has been involved in governance projects including board evaluation, development and restructuring within England Handball, board strategy development for the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, and project-managing UK Sport’s governance evaluation of the British Amateur Boxing Association

Our Associates

Wharton Consulting has a variety of associates with whom it shares projects where additional and complementary expertise is required. Chief among these are:

  • Stuart Cummings of Official Consultancy, A former international Rugby League referee who refereed two Rugby League World Cup finals, in 1995 and 2000, four Challenge Cup finals, two Super League Grand Finals, and over 400 first-grade matches between 1988 and 2002. Following retirement from active refereeing, Stuart served as the Match Officials Director for the Rugby Football League from 2002 to 2013, leading the week-by-week appointment and review system for match officials within the professional game and, inter alia, overseeing the transition from part-time to full-time referees in the Super League competition in 2007. Stuart established Official Consultancy in 2013, providing services in the development of all aspects of match officials’ education, development and performance, and in the structures, systems and support mechanisms which surround them. As well as the RFL, his clients include the England & Wales Cricket Board and British Weight Lifting
  • John Rowe of Inspiration Consulting Ltd is an engineering graduate and qualified cost and management accountant, with corporate experience with both Proctor and Gamble and Price Waterhouse Coopers at home and in the USA. An expert in change management, John’s ten years as a management consultant have seen him lead major programmes of change in commercial organisations such as Norwich Union, Taylor Woodrow Homes and Elsevier Publishing