Chapter 7: Political, social, sporting and professional influences

Introduction: Five overriding influences

There were five very important influences on the establishment of sports centres and the period of rapid development up to 1999, and indeed activity since. Firstly, was the delivery of new buildings and operations overwhelmingly led by local authorities, as set out in previous chapters. Chapter 7 now sets out the other four major influences: –

  1. The impact of a range of important political, social and sporting influences over the period.
  2. The key role of The Sports Council as a national agency encouraging, supporting and helping to implement principles and needs established in the 1960s and 1970s (see 7.2).
  3. The arrival of the National Lottery and its Sports Fund (7.3).
  4. The development of professionalism in recreation management, accelerated by the foundation in 1970 of the Association of Recreation Managers (7.4).

Although we treat the various influences and changes from the 1970s to the start of the 21st century separately, they also impacted one on another. They were in reality a complicated web of facts, ideology, research, opinions and economic considerations.

7.1 The impact on sport and sports centres of changes in politics, society and sport

The main political, social and sporting issues that came to bear on centre provision and operation, leading up to and over the quarter century from 1975 are summarised here. Each is rehearsed in numerous published books.

7.1.1 Politics and sports centres

The post-World War II period witnessed an emerging complexity in the relationship between sport and politics in British society (see Chapter 1). Over the period there were cyclical shifts in the political rationale for public investment in sport. The complicated relationship between sport and politics, and sports centres and politics, is rehearsed in a wide range of published books and articles. Ian Henry records in ‘The Politics of Leisure Policy’ (Palgrave, 2001) that “For many years sports centre provision was centre stage with governments and the Sports Council”. Throughout the period there were three predominant issues: a) elite sport b) physical education & school sport and c) community mass-participation. The maturing of the welfare state from 1945 to 1976 had provided very important political underpinning of the original ‘raison d’etre’ for community sports centres. At the original core had been the lack of indoor facilities compared to the rest of Europe, and the UK weather! Chapter 1 explained how various Acts and reports from the mid-1960s to the mid -1970s reflected this gradual maturation. As we saw in Chapter 3 The Wilson Government from 1964 to 1970 was hugely influential, particularly with the 1975 White Paper ‘Sport and Recreation’ and the significant role of Denis Howell MP (1923-1998). Political and cultural decisions taken in the emerging “New Towns” and on Teesside in the mid-1960s and early 1970s to focus on sport and the arts were in fact a pre-cursor for local authorities in the rest of the country.

The 1970s are particularly remembered as an era when women’s rights, gay rights and environmental movements competed with the Watergate scandal, the energy crisis and the ongoing Vietnam War for the world’s attention. The early 1970s, when some of the early sports centres began to develop, was a difficult time politically. Industrial action by miners and subsequent power cuts meant that ‘the lights went out’ at times. The post WW2 welfare reform rationale became clearer in relation to sports centres by the mid-1970s, alongside Local Government Re-organisation (see Chapter3). As with national government, major changes through the decade were also affecting the local political scene (including demographic, economic, social, technological and cultural changes).

The mid-1970s provided something of a watershed in welfare policy. Economic crises triggered the resurgence of ideological debate in British politics, which in turn involved a questioning of the legitimate role of the state in society. In the early 1970s it can be said that sports and leisure facilities became a normal state-run amenity for the first time. In Chapter 6 we saw how politics and sports centre provision in Northern Ireland became closely allied. The mid-1970s watershed led to a new era from 1976 to 1984, which has been described as ‘economic realism’, when Local Government, the leading funding agent for centres, was subjected to significant spending limitations. However, overall this only had a limited, short-term and slowing effect on the ‘rolling wagon’ of new sports centre developments, as many councils found their way through to eventually making provision as a result of the general popularity of centres.

It is important to recognise that sport and recreation have never been statutory services. It has never had a regulatory framework covering its management or defined service standards governing its performance beyond normal health and safety and other relevant legislation. So, the fundamental question has often been – “why public sports centres?” For a simple answer we might turn (with tongue in cheek) to the Romans and say that the answer is “bread and circuses”. [The ‘bread and circuses’ programme was chariots and gladiator games to provide entertainment for the poor Romans. Roman Emperors knew that rebellion or uprisings from its people could be dangerous and risk the relative stability of the Empire. So, one great solution they devised was a distraction].

Another question has been “for whom is the provision intended?” – one that The Audit Commission sought to answer in a report in 1989 – “Sport for Whom?”, which covered the successes and shortcomings to date. The economic benefits of sport have long been argued (see Sport England ‘Economic Value of Sport’ 2015). As a discretionary service, councils chose to provide sports centres because they were seen as valuable to their communities and most councils have been happy to provide them, subsidise them and, until the 1980s, manage the centres themselves. In their book, ‘Sports and British Politics since 1960’ (1990) John Coghlan and Ida Webb summarised sport across three decades from a political angle as follows: –

“1965-70: Years of Promise; 1970-80; Years of Decision; and 1980-90 Years of Concern.”

PM Margaret Thatcher

There was significant change in 1979, in what proved to be a seismic political transformation for the country and in due course for the operation of sports centres. Margaret Thatcher became The UK’s first woman Prime Minister and set about a series of political and thus social changes which would have far reaching effect until the 21st century. The UK had to come to terms with Margaret Thatcher’s, much debated belief that “there is no such thing as ‘society’”. Unemployment rose to levels not seen since the ‘Great Depression’ and the economy was hit by two major recessions. It could not have initially been foreseen that the local sports centre would be swept up in new political policies, but a policy in relation to how local authority services should be provided did just that. Open contract tendering became compulsory for a wide range of public services, including sports centres, and from 1981 the interest of the commercial sector in sports centres was born. As we see in Chapter 8, Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT), the involvement of the private sector and then the rebirth of the early ‘charitable trust’ system (a la Harlow, St. Albans [Gosling] Poole and Basingstoke) were to gradually transform the operational management of sports centres for the next forty years. Political decisions are never very far from economic considerations and there can be little doubt that these reforms affecting Local Government services had a financial basis alongside political ideology.

It was widely thought that Margaret Thatcher did not ‘understand sport’ nor supported spending on seeking to host the Olympics or on Birmingham’s bid for the 1992 Commonwealth Games. This assessment was supported, for example, in the biography of Sir Walter Winterbottom (2013). The arrival of John Major as Prime Minister in 1990 was considered by many to be a breath of fresh air for sport. ‘Sport- Raising the Game’, released in 1995 was the Conservative Government’s new sports plan, with an emphasis on schools, with support from the National Lottery which by then had been introduced, with its sporting benefits (see 7.3). Unfortunately, the concept of ‘sport in schools’ was largely narrowed to team games and was not therefore all-embracing in its targeting.

By 1997 there was a Labour Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair, which led with the ‘The Game Plan’ (2002-2008) a joint Government Strategy Unit/Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) policy document for the delivery of sport and physical activity by the UK Government. It sought to use sport as a tool to benefit not only education but wider society tackling health, crime, social exclusion and encouraging the staging of major International sports events. It was a landmark document, being the first ever sports policy document authorized by two government departments, the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) and DCMS. It was part of a  ‘joined up thinking’ philosophy and was more comprehensive than any recent ‘sports policy’ document.

As ever, it is very difficult to measure the actual positive impact of such strategies, apart from them highlighting the values and importance of sport. Conversely, when David Cameron succeeded Gordon Brown as Prime Minister in 2007 his early premiership was marked by a series of cuts to the Schools’ Budget that impacted on the successful School Sports Partnerships, which had become established. The old ‘traditional team game’ view of sport in schools took hold again under the Conservative government. It is also fair to say that Major, Brown, Blair and Cameron all supported bringing major sports events to the UK.

The Sports Council did not escape these political changes. The pre-1979 Council commanded widespread respect but thereafter matters became more complicated under the Conservative government and by the mid-1980s the Council was under scrutiny as never before. Though it survived, the confidence and momentum of earlier years, which had so benefited sports centres, was reduced. The advent of the Lottery Sports Fund in 1994 did ameliorate the situation.

The apparent cyclical shifts in how sport is defined in public policy have been at least matched by shifts at the same time in the ‘raison d’etre’ for public investment in sport. This has wavered over the years on a spectrum from ‘sport for social good’ to ‘sport for sport’s sake’, and it probably in reality lies somewhere between the two. Thus, the ebb and flow of both political control and leadership can be seen to have come to bear on sport and sports centres over the years.

7.1.2 Social changes and sports centres

It is difficult in any era to easily relate political changes to shifting social attitudes and behaviour. However, there is no doubt that through 1970s and 1980s the significant social changes taking place particularly fed into the local political climate and provided a backcloth to the development and use of sports centres. The published works by Jenkins and Sherman in the late 1970s and early 1980s were also useful benchmarks and contributed further to thinking and debate about social and economic changes, and links with a potential leisure revolution. Their books, ‘The Collapse of Work’ [1979] and ‘The Leisure Shock’ [1981], projected, as it turned out, a slightly exaggerated but nonetheless reflective picture of the changes then taking place. So, the Seventies saw a definite shift in the lifestyle of a significant proportion of the population as sports participation increased. This was alongside the changing age structure and the start of a shift from a manufacturing to a service economy.

From the mid-1970s Local Government had faced increasing pressure on its services due to social changes ranging from unemployment and poverty to social order problems, especially in the major conurbations. ‘Sport in the Community – Into the 90’s’, the Sports Council Strategy for Sport, published in 1988 highlighted that sport reflected an increasingly polarised society. In the strategy two broad markets were identified as developing at that time: –

  1. a generally affluent sector – in work, healthy, well-educated and increasing its spend on leisure and
  2. a market which was generally poor, with poor health, possibly unemployed and often living in inner cities or rural areas with a poor economic base, and often with many ethnic groups. Overall, this sector had less opportunity for, and inclination towards, sport.

Overall, participation increased alongside the development of sports centres. The Sports Council recorded that the number of adults who took part in physical activity rose from 9.8M in 1979 to 12.4M in 1984 and to 13.2M. in 1989. In 1997 it was claimed that Britain had the highest level of sports participation in the world. Participation was used as an important measure of success and progress. From a national survey by the Sports Council in 1997 it was estimated that in an average 4-week period nearly 1M people in England made 2.4M visits to local authority sports halls, with 1.5M people making 4.3M visits to local authority swimming pools.

Social changes included the greater expectations from life and leisure. Despite the rising number of centres, which raised overall participation levels, certain sections of the community proved more difficult to attract so there was not equality of experience across the UK’s social structure. A series of research reports by the Sports Council and the Arts Council indicated that the provision of facilities alone did not, of itself, eliminate recreational disadvantage. Male, white, middle class individuals with access to private transport, were invariably over-represented among users of the new sports centres (Collins, 1979; Gregory, 1979; Grimshaw & Prescott-Clarke, 1978). Consequently, the reasons and justifications for sports centre provision, and their use certainly became more closely examined from the mid-1970s. A challenge to councils in the 1970s and 80s came from the Sports Council and related to the mounting concerns about the equality aspects of sport participation, but the challenge amounted largely to policy statements and strategies, campaigns – starting with ‘Sport for All’, and demonstration projects and funding opportunities mainly directed through the growth of Sports Development.

The role and value of sports centres were ever present issues through the rest of the 1970s and well into the 1980s, and to some extent have continued until today. There has always been a general acceptance in almost all circles that sport plays a positive role in communities large and small. From informal recreational matches and contests, to organised sports leagues and federations, people participate: they play, coach, train, and support their favourite athletes and teams. From indigenous sports to global sporting events, sport has ‘convening power’. Where opportunities for recreational sport and play are absent, individuals and entire communities are often acutely aware of what they are missing. Certainly, sports participation overall increased significantly as a result of sports centre developments.

Whilst political and social issues can impact on sports centres, sport in turn can contribute to political decision making and social and economic development, improving health and personal growth in people of all ages. Sport-related activities can generate employment and economic activity at many levels. Sport can also help build a culture of peace and tolerance by bringing people together on common ground, crossing national and other boundaries to promote understanding. Clearly sports centres, specifically, can and do contribute to this end.

The Sports Council and ARM were at the forefront of the argument for the social values of sport and sports centres. At the heart of that argument, Jimmy Munn (1930-2003), one of the Legacy Legends, first in Nottinghamshire, then Monmouth, Torfaen and Birmingham, made the strongest case for linking sport to reductions in crime amongst young people. He also linked this to the value of joint provision and dual use on school sites (see Chapter 8). When Director of Recreation & Leisure for the Borough of Torfaen in South Wales, he presented his case at the ARM National Seminar held in the Borough in February 1976. This was a reflection of his department’s work: ‘Neighbourhood Opportunity – an equation with vandalism, delinquency and the quality of life’ and was published in ARM News in February 1977.

The case for sports centres was of course even broader. The 1975 White Paper ‘Sport and Recreation’ (para 3.9) recorded the Government’s concern for recreation as stemming from the recognition of its importance for the general welfare of the community. In 1987 the Sports Council prepared a policy paper on why society should encourage mass participation in sport. It confirmed the broad rationale for sport, ranging from sport for its own sake to responding to demand (as local government was doing with sports centres), and from recreation as welfare (a contribution to social policy for reasons of health or deprivation) and to it being an economic contributor.

Later in 1996, as Regional Director for the Sports Council in the Northern Region, Dacre Dunlop, also set out the ‘Case for Sport’ in an article for the Centre for Crime & Justice Studies. He endorsed the foregoing justifications and went on to say “However, in making the case for sport, to raise its profile and importance at all political levels, it is essential that sport is seen not just for its own sake, but for the considerable economic and health benefits it brings”.

So, despite some of the foregoing justifications, it can be argued that the detailed raison d’etre for sports centres has remained a somewhat vexed question throughout the last six decades and it is no less so today. The challenge was always to provide conclusive empirical evidence of the benefits. The final word on this should appropriately be left to Mike Collins, renowned sports researcher and author, who often said that “if we could prove the cause and effect between sports provision and crime/anti-social behaviour – which we never could – Government would throw so much money at us we would have no time to breathe !!” This indicates that governments of all persuasions look to ‘silver bullets’ to solve their most intractable problems.

Examples of some other social influences on centres from the 1970s to the 1990s included: –

  • A new operational context: Health & Safety developments; greater insurance and legal claims.
  • A broader remit adopted by centres responding to ‘social’ demand for sophisticated holiday sports camps/schemes/initiatives/ and awards for children (and subject to regulatory OFSTED inspections in some cases).
  • Increasing child protection guidance and arrangements; DDA legislation and general safeguarding issues (Children’s Act 1989).
  • increasing/changing public service expectations based on commercial consumer experiences.
  • better provision for those with disabilities & the organisation of clubs for them.
7.1.3      Sporting change and development

There was also much change over the period in the structure and direction of sports governance, policy and activity. As we see in this chapter, the role and work of The Sports Council and the advent of the National Lottery were the strongest manifestations of the sporting influences on centre development. In addition, the strengthening of participation in several sports arising from the new indoor facilities helped the growth of some governing bodies of sport.

Sporting changes over the period included: –

  • A raft of Sports Council participation initiatives, including, in 1976, a major national ‘Sport for All’ campaign, and subsequently including an ‘Over 50s’ campaign and ‘Ever Thought of Sport’ for youth.
  • The increasing role of the education sector (schools, colleges and universities) in providing access to indoor sports facilities, including through joint provision schemes (see Chapter 8).
  • The changing popularity of sports, including the strengthening of specific sports including indoor bowls, martial arts and squash, arising from the provision of indoor sports centres and subsequent cyclical changes in demand and popularity
  • the arrival and influence of ‘sports development’ as a sector (though the concentration and impact were largely outwith sports centres)
  • A larger and more active sports media, with its impact on general interest in sports participation
  • The rise and role of fitness gyms and their consumer and financial clout (private gyms and LA centres and the eventual, slow demise of squash courts in many centres – often converted to fitness gyms). (see Chapter 10).
  • The increase of self-employment within some centres (personal trainers, coaches et al).
  • The start of a shift towards the development of free-standing sport-specific facilities.

It was in this broad contextual framework – political, social and sporting – that Local Government and the Sports Council spearheaded the major growth in sports centres up to the late 1990s. BY 2000 most local councils had developed centres, or even replaced originals [see Chapter 10]. The majority had adopted a range of policies to guide, as best possible, the operation of their centres towards equality of opportunity for physical recreation. Subsidised access included attractive pricing and membership reductions and specially priced sessions and allocated time for identified disadvantaged residents; and set proportions of facility time for casual and booked public and club use [and for special sports and non-sports events – including a balance between spectator events and public recreation use]. Booking systems were also geared to these criteria. A raft of surveys and projects also explored the outcomes from the provision including the success of the objectives and policies.

7.2 The role of the Sports Council and its regions: 1972-1996

 7.2.1    Royal Charter granted

The origins and creation of a Sports Council are described in Chapter 1. To ensure its independence and to set its terms of reference the Council was granted a Royal Charter when it changed from an “advisory” to an “executive” body in 1972. This set the Council’s objectives as

“that there should be established an independent Sports Council with the objects of fostering the knowledge and practice of sport and physical recreation among the public at large and the provision of facilities therefore,”

The main “powers” of the Council were set out as

  • to support the attainment of high standards in conjunction with the governing bodies of sport and physical recreation;
  • to foster, support or undertake provision of facilities for sport and physical recreation;
  • to carry out itself, or to encourage and support other persons or bodies in carrying out, research and studies into matters concerning sport and physical recreation; and to disseminate advice and knowledge on these matters;
  • to collaborate with foreign and international bodies in the furtherance of the foregoing or to secure the benefit of relevant experience abroad;
  • to make grants and loans upon and subject to such conditions and otherwise as the Council shall deem fit in the furtherance of the foregoing ….;
  • to carry on any other activity for the benefit of sport and physical recreation;
  • to advise, co-operate with or assist Departments of Our Government, local authorities, the Scottish Sports Council, the Sports Council for Wales, and other bodies, on any matters concerned whether directly or indirectly with the foregoing; etc.

From the outset therefore the Council saw the development of facilities for sport as an important priority and played an invaluable role. The challenges of the British weather and the example of other continental European countries convinced it that the lack of indoor sports centres was an important deterrent to wider participation in sport and therefore to its aim of achieving its slogan of “Sport for All.” With this in mind it mandated one of its main sub-committees with the responsibility to plan and encourage facility provision. The Council and its 9 regional arms all had such “Facilities Committees” charged with this role.

The main methods employed to achieve these ends were: –

  • national and regional facility planning guidance,
  • research on the provision and use of facilities,
  • funding,
  • design advice,
  • the promotion of good management,
  • the management and development of National Sports Centres,
  • the exercise of policy and political influence at National and Regional

One way to begin to comprehend the extent of the Sports Council’s ambitions, services and influence in England, especially on facility provision during the 1970s, 80s and 90s is toperuse the Council’s publications over the decades. The Sports Council’s role over this period stretched from publishing the first study of sports centres in 1971, which had been started by the CCPR [J. Birch – Chapter1], to the operation of the National Sports Lottery in the 1990s.

In fulfilling its statutory brief, The Sports Council’s activity and support for sports centres was extensive and included publishing national planning guidance on facilities, research studies of individual centres, building design guidance as well as ephemeral materials on centre management and construction within its regular publications, “Sport and Recreation” and “Sports Development Bulletin”. The Sports Council’s National Collection, held by the UCLan library in Preston, contains 8,000 books and reports, which ensures that such materials should not be lost for future research.  It is an impressive volume and range of material and over 200 relevant items related to sports centres have been extensively reviewed for this Sports Legacy Project.

https://www.uclan.ac.uk/students/library-it/library/national_collections.php

At the time of the Council’s inception in 1972 there were only 12 indoor sports centres in the UK. Ten years later (1981) there were 449, possibly the largest growth in a single decade and illustrative of the Council’s success in setting policies and developing working partnerships with local authorities and local education authorities, the principal providers at the time.

“Since 1978 the Sports Council has concentrated on the provision of local facilities which it regards as the greatest single need for sport in this country.”

“An investigation carried out (by the Council) in 1978 showed that there was a need for 2,900 local indoor halls in England”

(Sports Council Annual Report 1980/81)

 7.2.2    National Facilities Planning and Research

The first national facilities planning advice was published by the advisory Sports Council in the publication “Planning for Sport” (1968) and the Sports Council adopted this policy framework when it became an executive body in 1972. It also took over the majority of the staff of the CCPR so the task of implementation fell to the Council’s National Facilities Unit and its regional counterparts.

Details of “Planning for Sport”, “Provision for Sport”(1972) and “Sports Halls; a new Approach  to their Dimensions and Use,” (1975) the Council’s main national strategic documents of the period in relation to sports centres are covered in Chapter 4, and in Mike Fitzjohn and Malcolm Tungatt’s detailed sections In Chapter 4 and 9 on Research.

“Planning for Sport” also suggested assessment methods for sports grounds, swimming pools, and other facilities and promoted the concepts of Dual Use and Joint Planning of school facilities for community use. “Sports Halls a new Approach” and “Provision for Swimming” (1978) represented a step change towards considering individual communities’ needs and changed the way in which national planning policy for facilities was promoted. “Provision for Swimming” was the first publication to attempt a modelling approach to facility provision. Subsequent developments using computer aided modelling techniques leading to the eventual development of a “Facilities Planning Model” all increased the levels of sophistication and accuracy available for facility planning. As it transpired, however, no model or strategy could be a substitute for local determination and drive and it was the Council’s Local Authority partners who were responsible for delivering these targets.

However, none of these techniques could have been possible without the empirical research on the use and management of sports centres carried out by the Sports Council, especially in the period 1970 to 1985.The Council’s Research Unit under the able guidance of the late Mike Collins carried out and commissioned research into a wide variety of centres in different communities, providing detailed information on their catchments, the socio economic profile of their users, travel patterns, impacts of programming, cost, marketing and the interaction between neighbouring centres. It was this research, published as Sports Council Research Studies, which allowed the Council to make confident assessments of current and future need for centres and to be able to identify with greater precision the impact of planned provision as well as feeding into planning modelling guidance.

The development of facility planning guidance based on empirical research enabled the Council’s officers in its 9 regions to use their influence through the Regional Sports Councils and subsequently the Regional Councils for Sport and Recreation, and their contacts with Local Authorities, to promote rationally planned facility provision for the benefit of local communities. It is often postulated that the surge in the provision of sports centres in the period 1974 – 78 was largely due to the impact of the 1974 reorganisation of local government (see Chapter 3.) However, the availability of planning, research and design advice from the Sports Council and the lobbying of its regional officers ensured that sport was at the forefront of the minds of prospective providers during this period. It is often overlooked that other forms of public leisure facilities in the arts, libraries and heritage sectors for example, lacking such well-developed plans and advocacy networks, did not experience anything like the scale of growth as that seen in sports provision during the same period.

The influence of national planning guidance waned rapidly in the 1980s largely due to the indifference to public sector sport of the Conservative Government under Margaret Thatcher, based on a belief that market forces rather than centrally planned provision should predominate and curbs on local authority spending, which all contributed to a more “free for all” approach. However, Local Management of Schools (LMS) did, in due course, lead to the greater availability of school facilities for sport in some parts of the country.

7.2.3    Funding

The Sports Council did have at its disposal some limited funds for investment in sports facilities before the advent of the National Lottery (see 7.3.) The main programme for funding new leisure centres was the “Major Capital Grants” scheme. Grants of up to £50,000 were available to local authorities as an encouragement to provide facilities for sport. At the time this was a modest contribution towards a sports centre but a useful “pump-priming” exercise and so the grants were often more symbolic of a “seal of approval” from the Council rather than a significant financial contribution. However, these were often welcomed as an endorsement by local politicians who saw them as a validation of their decisions to provide for sport in their communities.

“Minor Capital Grants” were also available to sports clubs and voluntary groups. “Grants to Facilities in Areas of Special Need” were originally targeted at deprived, mainly inner city, areas at risk of social unrest but were later broadened to address other forms of social deprivation such as the lack of access to facilities in rural areas. A further grants stream existed in the form of “Prototype Grants” which were aimed at funding innovations in facility provision. Some, like frame supported sports buildings and reinforced turf pitches were a success while others such as “Olympic Golf” (a compact variant on a golf course) were less so.

7.2.4    Design

If the Council’s influence in funding sports buildings was limited, its impact on their design was significantly greater. The Technical Unit for Sport (TUS) was a group of architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other building professionals under the leadership of Geraint John who had originally transferred to the Sports Council from the Department of Education and Science. They produced good practice design advice ranging from ephemera on specific topics called “TUS Design Sheets” to design templates on specific facility types (“TUS Design Guides”) through to their seminal work “The Handbook of Sport and Recreation Building Design” (1981) which covered all technical aspects of designing indoor and outdoor sports buildings. The TUS also monitored and advised on the design aspects of facilities in receipt of major capital grants. The TUS quantity surveyors also monitored the cost of sports buildings and published regular “TUS Cost Guides” which enabled architects, builders and clients to benchmark the costs and value of their projects.

As well as literature and advice the TUS also carried out their own projects as benchmarks for facility development,  which included  a swimming pool at Ashton under Lyne and a sports hall at Tamworth, which became the model for the Standardised Approach to Sports Halls (SASH)  as well as work at the Council’s National Sports Centres. A fuller description of the work of the TUS is set out in the “Design” section of Chapter 4.

7.2.5    Centre Management

As well as its major influence on sports hall design the Sports Council also influenced the management of sports centres.

Harry and Marion and Angela – Rec Man receptionists

Early in its existence the Council’s first Head of Facilities, Harry Littlewood realised that good management was essential to enable Sports Centres to deliver the best opportunities for sport in their communities. Early managers realised the value of exchanging good practice and the need for a national forum to exchange ideas and information and they found a willing advocate in Harry Littlewood. Harry took up the challenge of providing this opportunity and under the auspices of the Sports Council created a ‘Recreation Management Advisory Group’ and an annual Recreation Management Conference (always thereafter referred to as “RecMan.”) From a small beginning at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, the event grew into the “must attend” event for the whole leisure management profession. With the involvement of Ted Blake, a frequent and inspirational speaker at early events, an exhibition of sports equipment, services and fittings was added to the conference. The exhibition grew in scale so that it could only be hosted in major exhibition centres such as Wembley and the N.E.C. and eventually came to dominate the conference, leading to the latter coming to an end in the 1990s and being replaced by largely “trade fair” type events such as Leisure Industry Week (L.I.W.)

A partial list of venues for RecMan is listed below.

REC MAN CONFERENCE* & EXHIBITION VENUES AND YEARS
1st          CRYSTAL PALACE NATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE- 1969? 14th       HARROGATE ‘83
2nd, 3rd NO INFORMATION FOUND 15th       BRIGHTON ‘84
4th         BILLINGHAM FORUM ’72 16th       BLACKPOOL ’85
5th         CARDIFF ‘73 17th       HARROGATE ‘86
6th         HARROGATE ‘74 18th       HARROGATE ‘87
7th         BOURNEMOUTH ‘75 19th       WEMBLEY ‘88
8th         EDINBURGH ‘76 20th       WEMBLEY ‘89
9th         SANDWELL ‘77 21st        WEMBLEY ‘90
10th       BIRMINGHAM ‘78
11th       BELFAST ‘79
12th       BLACKPOOL ’80
13th       BRIGHTON ‘81
WEMBLEY ’82 “INTERNATIONAL” EVENT (not counted as Rec Man)

 (*Name changed to “seminar” midstream as “conference” attendance was not allowed by lots of councils!)

Following an early meeting of centre managers and interested parties at Crystal Palace NSC in the late 1960s, a professional body essentially for managers, the Association of Recreation Managers, was formed in 1969 and formalised in 1970 (see 7.4). Harry Littlewood helped with support and advice. Rec Man with its prestige reinforced the importance of such professional development. Harry also introduced The Sports Council Award for Sports Centre Management which also aimed to spread good practice among centre managers and was a successful annual event into the 1990s.

Members and Officers of the Council were also active in promoting leisure education and the Chair of the Facilities Committee, Bernard Atha served as Vice Chair of the Yates Committee on Leisure Management Education (1984.) The Council funded an Education Officer for the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM) as a result of the Yates recommendations. The Council’s Officers in the Regions also supported the numerous emerging leisure courses at colleges and universities around the country following the Yates report.

7.2.6    National Centres

The Council inherited from the CCPR five National Sports Centres at Bisham Abbey in Buckinghamshire; Lilleshall in Shropshire; Crystal Palace in London; Cowes Sailing Centre on the Isle of Wight and Plas-y-Brenin Mountain Centre in Snowdonia. It later added a National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire. Although the primary purpose of the National Centres was to provide training and competition venues for National Governing Bodies of Sport, both Crystal Palace and Holme Pierrepont were extensively used by their local communities, particularly schools. John Birch, former Director of Regional Services of the Sports Council, has set out the role and development of the National Centres.

7.2.7    The Regions

When the Sports Council was established in 1965, and it was agreed that it would be serviced by the staff of the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR), it inherited a major asset of that organisation, its network of Regional Offices. At the time the regional staff were mainly from a physical education background and organised assorted training courses, but it immediately provided the Sports Council with a local, customer facing network in all parts of the country, which would be the envy of several other national agencies for many years to come.

It was precisely because of this extant network that Denis Howell was able to move so quickly to the establishment of Regional Sports Councils in 1967. These mainly brought together in a single forum the principal providers of facilities – Local Authorities, Local Education Authorities, Water Boards, etc. – and the main user groups, represented by regional and local arms of the Governing Bodies of Sport. It put Regional Directors and their staff in a unique position, sat at the interface of national policy and local needs. Given the new responsibilities of the Sports Council for facilities planning it was necessary for it to broaden its recruitment base, initially bringing on board town planners at its HQ and in several regions, but also, over time, expertise on sports centre management, design, countryside recreation, and allied professions. The organisation of most Regional Offices broadly reflected that at Sports Council Headquarters, with:-

  • a Sports Development or Participation Team mainly working with Governing Bodies of Sport, Local Sports Councils, and their representative group variously called a Sports Conference or Sports
  • A Facilities Team, mainly working with facility providers on planning, design, and management issues and, in appropriate cases, offering grant aid
  • In some regions individual officers also took responsibility for liaison with specific geographical areas within the region, often a County or group of Boroughs and/or groups of sports in addition to their “team”

The Council’s Regional Officers were major advocates of centre provision in their areas. Through their links with local politicians and professionals they regularly attended and spoke at local authority committee meetings in support of centre building proposals and encouraged a positive climate for the emerging leisure profession. The Regional Councils themselves were important forums for the dissemination of good practice and advice and allowed progressive politicians and officers to influence the wider regional community and to encourage the more recalcitrant providers. Regional Directors were often instrumental in encouraging local Leisure Chairs to put forward schemes for new centres and their personal networking could often be influential in local decision making.

In 1975 the Regional Sports Councils were replaced with Regional Councils for Sport and Recreation, bringing a range of countryside interests within the erstwhile tent, though in some regions they had long been present. Joint servicing with the Countryside Commission was proposed, but never properly developed. A new requirement to produce Regional Strategies was largely undertaken by regional staff. The Chairs were appointed by the Minister, and this became a route into full membership of the Sports Council for some, such as Trevor Brooking, who eventually became Chair of Sport England.

The advent of the National Lottery in 1994 witnessed significant recruitment by the now Sport England, mainly for Case Officers and specialists at Headquarters, but also a Lottery Officer and a Regional Facilities Development Officer (often an architect) in each region. Once more the role of  the regions, sat at the interface of local customers and national decision makers, was to add huge value to the process.

But in the late 90s and subsequently the Regional Offices were allowed to wither on the vine. Numerous ‘restructurings’ saw the overall staff, including in the regions, reduced. Some Regional Offices were closed, and staffs merged. Homeworking became commonplace. Sport England’s functions were largely consolidated in London and Loughborough. The Regional Offices, which many had regarded as the jewels in the corporate crown, and had served successive organisations well for over 60 years, were no more.

Jack Wilkinson, a former Senior Planning Officer with the London and South-East Region of the Sports Council, sets out in more detail the important role played by the Regional Offices and Regional Councils in advocacy and advice at local level.

7.2.8    Transition

As we have seen in earlier chapters the Sports Council had a long and sometimes chequered history. From 1965 to 1972 it was the “Advisory Sports Council” and, as noted above, from 1972 it became the “Executive Sports Council.” In 1996 a further transition was brought about by the Government’s desire to create separate identities for “international” and “community” sport and to address the relative failure of Team GB at the 1996 Olympic Games. The “international” function was passed to the United Kingdom Sports Council which later became UK Sport. The “community function” was passed to the new “English Sports Council” with similar bodies in the other home countries. In 1997 the English Sports Council adopted the new ‘brand name’ of “Sport England” which has assumed the role of developing sport in England over the last twenty years. However, despite its various changes of name and role, one lasting legacy of the Sports Council to centres has been the universal adoption of its “Sport for All” logo as the definitive direction and access sign for sports centres.

7.2.9    Conclusion

The Sports Council played an important part in the development of sports and leisure centres and the leisure management profession during the period from the early 1970s to the late 1990s (see John Birch Recollections) , when it was heavily engaged with Regional Councils, local partners, professionals and politicians resulting in the rapid but rational growth of sports centres across the country. The recession of the early 21st century and the pressures on local authority funding which accompanied it raise the question of whether the aim of ‘Sport for All’ will ever again be embraced with such enthusiasm or that facility building and professional management will be such integral parts of achieving it?

7.3 The National Lottery Sports Fund and Sports Centres

7.3.1      Background and Factual Overview

As we have seen in the previous section, the Sports Council changed its name and role on several occasions. However, the most profound change and the greatest impact on the culture and the performance of our national sporting agency came about with the advent of the National Lottery Sports Fund.

The idea of a National Lottery to provide funding for a number of “good causes” was first embraced by the Government of (now Sir) John Major in the early 1990s. Despite opposition from some quarters which saw a Lottery as state sponsored gambling and from the football pools industry who feared the competition, Major saw it as an opportunity to support a number of areas of public spending which would otherwise have a lower priority in ever tightening budgets. A self-confessed sports fanatic, Major was determined that sport would be one area to which public largesse would be funnelled.

Derek Casey and Sir Trevor Brooking, Chair Sport England

Derek Casey, Director of National Services for Sport England at the time of the Lottery’s inception, and soon to be its Chief Executive, has recalled some of the background to the decision to include sport as one of the good causes supported by the Lottery and pays tribute to an unsung hero of the campaign for a Lottery. He has also explained the lobbying and background which ensured that the Sports Council would be entrusted with the role of administration and distribution of Lottery money from the Lottery Sports Fund.

The National Lottery Act which authorised and regulated the Lottery was passed in 1993 and the operator, Camelot was appointed in 1994. The Act required the operator to deliver 28% of all Lottery profits to the good causes and of this 20% is allocated to sport. The first draw took place on 19th November 1994 and the first applications for funding were invited in January 1995. By June 1996 the 1000th award to sport was being announced.

David Carpenter, the first Director of the Lottery Sports Fund, led the Sports Council’s detailed preparatory work and in two personal recollections he has recorded valuable reviews of the Lottery Sports Fund:

  1. The Background and Factual Overview – and
  2. The Impact, Trends and the Future (follow links)

David records that “The National Lottery Sports Fund has had a significant role investing in Sports Centres in England over a 25-year period. The Lottery Fund was introduced against a background of falling Local Government capital spending and in the early years, 1995 -1998, it re-stimulated the market and resulted in many local sports centre schemes that had remained dormant for some years coming forward, and being matched by newly allocated partnership funding. Over time, a lot of new strategic schemes were developed and came forward, mainly from schools and local authorities, alongside literally thousands of other projects championed by the voluntary sector, some very ambitious, some very small but nonetheless locally important”.

7.3.2      The Impact of the National Lottery on Centre Provision

David also records that “The positive contribution made by the Fund saw a ‘step change’ in some policy areas, with a very large number of sports centre projects that have had significant impact on local communities, and on individual people locally”.

The project has used a definition of ‘indoor community sports centre” originally developed by the Sports Council. However, data provided by Sport England and its fellow Lottery distribution bodies in N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales and from the DCMS Lottery Monitor website does not always provide sufficient detail to enable confident analysis of design, layout or the amount of “community access” required to meet our definition. In addition, some projects listed by the distributors as “swimming pools” may also incorporate a sports hall and vice versa. Despite several requests Sport England and Sport Wales were unwilling or unable to provide more detailed analysis although this was forthcoming from Sport Scotland and Sport Northern Ireland.

The following analysis is therefore the Project’s best estimate of the number and value of centre projects in receipt of Lottery funding set out by home country.

England

Following a Freedom of Information request, Sport England provided the project with a list of some 24,513 Lottery funded projects (excluding ‘Awards for All’, 1999-2002). From these, analysis by Mike Fitzjohn for the Project, suggests that approximately 138 new Local Authority sports centre  projects with a total value of £1.1 billion attracted a Lottery contribution of £264 million while a further 137 Local Authority centre projects with a project value of £233 million  received Lottery funding of £81 million  towards upgrading or refurbishment. The Table 1 below shows the number of centres, their project costs and Lottery funding in 5-year periods. It is taken from a full list of new Local Authority centres and their locations.

TABLE 1 – LOCAL AUTHORITIES (NEW CENTRES AND UPGRADES)
Number of Centres Award Amount £

Project Cost £

1994 – March 1999 101 146,453,823 241,827,565
April 1999- March 2004 60 97,605,182 226,706,854
April 2004 – March 2009 28 31,602,402 167,827,354
April 2009 – March 2014 39 19,823,312 286,601,900
April 2014 – March 2019 47 49,152,870 443,815,754
TOTALS 275 344,637,589 1,366,779,427

In addition, 125 new sports centre or sports hall projects on school or college sites, all with full community access, and with a total value of £240 million received £127 million of Lottery funding. A further 67 upgrades or refurbishments of school or college premises received Lottery funding of £21 million towards total costs of £41million.  

Table 2 below analyses these investments by 5-year periods and is taken from a list of new centres on school and college sites

TABLE 2 – SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES (NEW CENTRES AND UPGRADES)
Number of Centres Award Amount £ Project Cost £
1994 – March 1999 73 52,918,931 79,295,860
April 1999- March 2004 62 73,939,058 116,047,610
April 2004 – March 2009 15 10,084,518 30,620,850
April 2009 – March 2014 24 7,021,485 30,204,692
April 2014 – March 2019 18 4,304,788 24,458,666
TOTALS 192 148,268,780 280,627,678

A further 58 new centre projects sponsored by other organisations (voluntary sports clubs, community groups, youth organisations, parish councils etc.) with a total project cost of £103 million received funding of £48 million from the Lottery. Such organisations also received £23 million towards the £37 million cost of refurbishment or upgrading 33 existing facilities.

In total the above represent some 321 new indoor sports centres and 237 upgrades and refurbishments of existing centres, with a total Lottery Sports Fund investment of £564 million towards total project costs of £1.8 billion. Additional projects on University sites, at National Sports Centres, in specialist facilities, and in 57 new freestanding swimming pools and 119 upgrades/refurbishments of such pools, would suggest that the Lottery Sports Fund in England has supported about 800 indoor sports projects with an investment of about £800 million towards total project costs of about £2.5 billion, a truly massive total.

TABLE 3 – SUMMARY
Number of Centres Award Amount £ Project Cost £
NEW INDOOR CENTRES
Local Authority 138 263,940,180 1,134,036,590
School and College Sites 125 127,227,760 239,825,577
Other Providers 58 48,449,849 103,406,308
TOTALS 321 439,617,789 1,477,268,475
 
UPGRADES/ADDITIONS/  REFURBISHMENTS
Local Authority 137 80,697,409 232,742,837
School and College Sites 67 21,041,020 40,802,101
Other Providers 33 22,766,086 37,282,523
TOTALS 237 124,504,515 310,827,461
TOTAL INDOOR CENTRE PROJECTS 558 564,122,304 1,788,095,936
Some Examples of Lottery Funded Centres in England

The Lottery has led innovation in the provision of a new generation of centres and halls which highlight good practice in design, planning and programming. Some examples include Whitechapel Sports Centre in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Lottery funded in 1996) where a “women only” gym allows the privacy required to encourage participation among local ethnic minority women. Also, in London the vast Westway Sports Centre, an example of using an inner urban brownfield site under the Westway flyover for community recreation, was extended by the North Kensington Amenity (now Westway) Trust (Lottery funded in 1999) – see pictures. The centre provided valuable support for the community as a rest centre following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The East Anglian Sports Park in Norwich provides an example of University facilities available to the wider community (Lottery funded in 1998).

Littlehampton Wave

‘Littlehampton Wave’ Leisure Centre (Lottery funded in 2018) provides an example of a modern wet and dry facility replacing an ageing swimming pool using modern environmental practice to reduce energy. The Sport England “Optimum Sports Hall” package was first developed with Lottery funding in 2002 at St. Mary’s College in Hull and helped the school to achieve sports academy and “Beacon School” status. Examples of rural and market town provision can be found at Fakenham Leisure Centre (Lottery funded in 2003) in the Eastern Region and Lutterworth Sports Centre (Lottery funded in 2003) in the East Midlands region, while the legacy of the strategic planning of facilities in the South West Region can be found at the Parish Wharf Centre in Woodspring District in North Somerset (Lottery funded in 1995) and The Activity Zone in Malmesbury, Wiltshire (Lottery funded in 2003). Sport England’s website offers some further examples of good practice.

Scotland

Also following a Freedom of Information request Sport Scotland provided the Project with a full list of facility capital projects funded by the Lottery in Scotland. Further analysis by Sport Scotland suggested that 31 projects were for “sports centres” and 17 for “Sports halls.” However, these were not differentiated into “new” or “refurbishment/ upgrade” or by sponsor type. Sport Scotland was unable to provide final project costs for the schemes but did provide a breakdown by Local Authority area.

Further analysis of the overall figures by the Project identified 98 schemes on centre sites which fitted the Project’s definitions, and which were provided by Local Authorities, schools and other education sites, and Voluntary or “other” providers (see England above for definition.)

Of these, 50 schemes were sponsored by Local Authorities with a total Lottery expenditure of £40 million. 19 projects were located on education sites and sponsored by school or other education providers or jointly with Local Authorities with a total Lottery expenditure of £9 million. A further 29 projects were sponsored by voluntary or other providers with a total Lottery expenditure of £7 million. In total we estimate that the Lottery in Scotland has distributed £56 million towards centres.

According to Sport Scotland estimates, expenditure on all sports facilities from the Lottery is equivalent to £50.15 per head of Scotland’s population. Perhaps not surprisingly the largest beneficiary of Lottery funding in Scotland for sports facilities was the City of Glasgow which received £43 million followed by Edinburgh with £16 million. The Highland region benefited from almost £13 million while Clackmannanshire was the lowest beneficiary with £345,000.

Some Scottish Examples

Glasgow Club, Gorbals

The Glasgow Club, Gorbals (Lottery funded in 1996) is a community sports centre in a once notoriously run-down area of Glasgow while Currie Community High School (Lottery funded in 2006) in Edinburgh, is one of 21 schools in the city with community access to its wet and dry facilities.  Carnoustie Sports Complex (funded in 2002) is an example of provision in a rural coastal area otherwise better known for golf.

 

Badenoch Community Sports Hub

In the Highland Region Badenoch Community Sport Hub (funded in 2010) based at Kingussie High School provides dual use facilities for clubs and the local community in this remote area south of Aviemore. The ARC Health and Wellbeing Centre at Glasgow Caledonian University (funded in 1997) provides facilities for students, staff and the wider community in central Glasgow.

Northern Ireland

As explained in an earlier chapter, funding for facilities in Northern Ireland is largely controlled by the Stormont devolved administration. Funding for centres from the Sport Northern Ireland Lottery fund has therefore been limited to only 4 projects all sponsored by voluntary or “other” providers. Total Lottery expenditure on these projects amounted to £2,758,000. (Source Sport Northern Ireland).

Wales

The same Freedom of Information request as that sent to the other distributors was sent to Sport Wales, but the data eventually provided was not suitable for interrogation for the purposes of the project.

Some information has been extracted on Sports Lottery funding in Wales directly from the DCMS Lottery Monitor (2019), but this contains limited data and, without clear verification from Sport Wales, total accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Between 1994 and 2017 Sport Wales made 18,156 Lottery funding awards with a total spend of £208 million. Our analysis suggests that of these 20 new Local Authority Sports Centres, including sites at schools, were funded with a total Lottery contribution of £11.3m. A further 44 schemes involved upgrading facilities at Local Authority or school sites  with a total Lottery input of £10.1m. 15 schemes by “other” providers (see definition in England section above) for new or upgraded facilities were funded at a total Lottery spend of £2.6m Two University or Higher Education schemes received £1.8m, bringing total Lottery investment in indoor centres in Wales to about £25.7m in some 81 schemes. In addition, 5 new swimming pools and 8 pool refurbishments were also funded. Limited information is available on the level of partnership funding provided but the total project value was in the region of £76 million which is consistent with ratios elsewhere.

Examples in Wales

Given the paucity of the available data it is difficult to select examples but the former industrial communities of Pontypool, Ebbw Vale and Tonypandy have received support for new or upgraded provision as have rural areas such as Aberaeron, Conwy and Llandrindod Wells. The only University scheme supported was at the University of Wales, Bangor. As might be expected Rugby Union clubs are strongly represented in the “other” category with Risca and Pontyclun RFCs receiving awards for the provision of sports halls.

Analysis and Conclusions

The inclusion of sport as one of the “good cause” beneficiaries of the National Lottery was a game changer for sports administration across the U.K’s four home nations. For the first time they had access to significant resources to enable them to follow clear policies and agendas. In sporting excellence, it meant a sea change in coaching, preparation and athlete development followed by significant success at Olympic and other International events by following a “no-compromise” approach to success.

The picture on facility provision is not so clear cut. Initially, the development of community facilities was seen as a priority and an opportunity to redress the balance of declining expenditure by Local Authorities, the erstwhile main providers. Some regions were also able to manipulate the “no soliciting” conditions imposed on the distributors in order to pursue their own strategic objectives while others were less engaged with clients. From the outset the distributors required the production of detailed “sports development plans” for all new facilities, an approach which some local authorities found difficult to reconcile with their more socially orientated or casual use policies.

The distributors also emphasised that the distribution of Lottery money was “a marathon, not a sprint,” yet the chronological figures suggest that early applicants for new and refurbished Local Authority or education centres were more likely to be successful than later applicants. This may however be due to the continuing and increasing constraints upon local authority and schools capital and revenue expenditure which means that they have been unable to meet the partnership funding requirements of schemes or that the outsourcing of the management of centres has moved the responsibilities for reinvestment to contractors. The distributors were also under the twin pressures of high demand in the early years and the political pressures to deliver fast and eye-catching results which may have led to some decisions which were taken for expedient rather than strategic reasons.

It is also not clear that the distributors have lately been as active in monitoring the outcomes of their investment in centres as they were in the early years. Neither has the level of facility-based research kept pace with the significant changes in operational methodologies and revenue driven programming approaches now followed by the majority of operators. David Carpenter has expressed a view that many Local Authority schemes now operating do not meet the criteria under which they were originally funded. It is therefore difficult to know if funded facilities and their managements are continuing to meet the needs of local communities or addressing inequalities in participation.

There is a looming crisis as many centres, first developed in the 1970s, reach the end of their economic lives and will be in need of replacement or major refurbishment (see Chapter 10). It is not clear that the distributors have the will or have developed policies to meet or overcome this potentially major problem for local provision.

As we mentioned at the outset, the Lottery also saw a major cultural change within the distributor bodies. Because of the need to administer significant funds in ways which are accountable and consistent with the legislative requirements of the Lottery Act, they have increasingly become dependent on paperwork and computer systems, and have moved from human resources to on-line resources and, accompanied by the loss of a regional presence, their relationship with “clients” has become less one of “partnership” and more remote from local planning and needs. Of course, the Sport Councils themselves were affected, finally transformed from one of the aspirational quangos of the Sixties and Seventies. Instead of rationing their millions they were required to make long-term plans for the investment of billions. This was clearly a different ball game than pure ‘Sports Administration’ (although the Council and its staff always believed they were involved in a process of “Sports Development” not simply “Administration.”)

The Fund has made a positive contribution, a ‘step change’ in some policy areas, with a very large number of sports centre projects that have had significant impact on local communities, and on individual people locally. It enabled provision to continue to be made at a time when financial pressures on providers have intensified. It has brought new partner providers into the market and has encouraged innovation in design and environmental management. It has encouraged the adoption of rational sports development policies where none had previously existed and has encouraged provision in rural areas and market towns where there was no such provision previously. It has undoubtedly been a boon to the consultancy industry to which hard- pressed applicants have increasingly turned for assistance in completing scheme designs and application processes.

In the early days of the Fund a lot of significant strategic projects were supported in the major cities, and rural market towns. This then trended into more support for projects on education sites, particularly Specialist Sports Colleges offering curricular, extra-curricular and community use on either a casual or booked basis.

Based on figures provided by the distributors and assuming that the Lottery to project cost ratio is similar for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as for that in England, it is an estimate that the Lottery has generated over two billion pounds worth of investment in nearly 800 sports centre projects in the U.K over the 25 year period from 1994 to 2019 – a significant and historic investment and one which would probably not have been made without the vision of political and sporting leaders at that time of the conception of the Lottery.

After the initial surge of applications during the first five years of the Lottery Fund other sources of funding perhaps started to supersede its importance in terms of sports centre provision, and the Fund diversified into providing stimulant funds for the hugely successful high performance programmes, the English Institute of Sport, school sport co-ordinators, the Active Sport programme that became the fore-runner of the County Sports Partnerships, the Millennium Youth Games and Major International Events.

For Sports Centres ‘Building Schools for the Future’, the ‘Private Finance Initiative’, and the ‘New Opportunities Fund for PE and Sport’ [another £750million of Lottery funding!] became much more relevant. But the Lottery Fund remained very active and relevant, for example, to the initial development of Specialist Sports Colleges.

Future funded schemes are likely to come under intense scrutiny by Sport England, in respect of key criteria for the new Government Sports Strategy; and by Local Government, in terms of making new provision in a policy area that remains discretionary. Health, Wellbeing and Physical Activity agendas will heavily influence future provision.

A full list of supported projects can be found at www.Lottery.culture.gov.uk.

7.4 Professional development for sports centres and recreation management

7.4.1      Managerial recruitment

Physical Education Teaching

Once the development of a new centre had been agreed, the recruitment of a suitable manager became an immediate priority for local councils and trusts, which had no experience of indoor sports management. Chapter 3 (3.6) referred to the main, early sources of managerial recruitment for sports centre managers. Recruitment sources were varied, though three sectors led the way – physical education, baths management and the military. The variety of managerial backgrounds at the start provide a distinct contrast to the management scene today, where, with longstanding structures now established, managers predominantly rise through the ranks of leisure centre staff, with some coming from other employment.

Through until at least the mid-1980s, physical education teaching proved to be by far the biggest recruiting ground for all management positions, starting from the first appointment (George Torkildsen, who was appointed at Harlow in 1961). PE teachers had completed a three-year, full time course of higher education. Up until the late 1960s a PE teacher’s qualification was the only sport related higher education qualification. Consequently, PE teachers, especially those from the few specialist colleges such as Loughborough, Leeds Carnegie and Exeter St. Luke’s, were to be found in many aspects of sport in this country and abroad. PE teachers were normally the lead person in charge of a school’s sports facilities and equipment. PE teachers were seen to be particularly suited to jobs in sports centre management, especially where public facilities were on school campuses. As we have seen in other chapters, some quite senior military officers also moved into centre management, whilst some council’s entrusted new centres to their existing swimming pool managers. (see Sports Centre Management Recruitment).

7.4.2      Recognition of the need for sound management

There were no specific qualifications for sports centre management, other than the Institute of Baths Management’s technical exams for swimming pools. The need for centre management skills were identified in an early study – “In particular it is the leisure centre manager who needs to possess key qualities of leadership, communication, market awareness, and innovation”.

The 1975 Government White Paper, ‘Sport and Recreation’, had also addressed management and career prospects in the evolving sports scene, especially with the arrival of sports centres. To quote the White Paper – “The Government are concerned to improve recreation management with a view to the better use of resources. Employers see a need for improvement of management and career prospects in the recreation field. The Government therefore proposes further consultation with local authority associations and other bodies concerned to set up a study to consider how this may be achieved and to assess the current and future requirements for education and training for managers at various levels – both in the public and the private sector – who are responsible for the day to day running of facilities for sport and outdoor recreation.”

An objective reflection, based on views at that time, was that in terms of management, the early managers were indeed pioneers.  Geoff Bott recorded his early thoughts on management whilst at Billingham Forum. They were usually well-educated, intuitive, original, highly motivated and committed to what they were doing. They were largely successful because they made up for their lack of management training and business skills through time, effort and learning through doing. It became apparent, however, particularly with the moves of many of the original managers to posts of seniority in recreation services, that this was not enough. As an indicator of the need for improved management, of the first 70 centres that competed in the Sports Council Management Award in 1976, well over two thirds of them had no written centre objective and no guidelines, other than budget estimates, to measure their performance.

7.4.3      The foundations of training and development

Two academic institutions took an early interest in recreation management and the need for management skills. These were Loughborough University of Technology and North London Polytechnic. The world of academia was, over the coming years, to play an increasing significant part in providing education courses for, and undertaking research into, sports centres and recreation management generally.

l to r – John Jeffery, Jimmy Munn & George Torkildsen

Under the leadership of John Jeffery, Loughborough UoT launched a Master’s degree course in Recreation Management in 1968/69. In January 1971 it started another course, a Diploma in Recreation Management (see his Training for Recreation Management paper (1972). The Loughborough courses came at an early stage of the development of recreation management and involved a substantial financial and time commitment from the student. Early graduates came from widely differing backgrounds and then went on to enter a whole variety of employments. A few entered sports centres or aspects of recreation management. The courses were ground-breaking and provided a springboard for later developments across the country.

The North London Polytechnic took the longstanding Diploma in Management Studies (DMS) course and created a DMS (Recreation Management). This was the first course to catch the attention of the early centre managers as it was part-time and therefore suited to post-holders. It was perhaps the ‘gold standard’ recreation management course at that time and attracted early managers. Bernard Warden from Bracknell SC presented some lectures. The ordinary DMS and DMS (Public Administration) part-time courses were already established and largely serving industry and government. Several centre managers found these geographically convenient to attend, and the content of the business-based courses and the broad range of attendees beneficial.

In 1983 the first edition of George Torkildsen’s book (‘Leisure and Recreation Management’) with its chapter on Management, Marketing, Performance Appraisal etc. introduced many sports centre managers to management processes as most had not studied the subject.

Over later decades the role of academia in sport and recreation was to grow hugely, both in terms of research and courses ranging from NVQ to degree level. There are now approaching 300 degree-level courses which include the word ‘sport’ in their title and 8,500 students now taking A-Level P.E. across the country! The managers need for accurate and timely information, some of which can be provided by courses and seminars, has been an ongoing issue over the decades (Information Needs of Professionals).

 7.4.4     The Yates Committee and Report

Anne Yates CBE JP

As centres developed and recreation departments were formed in local government, attention to the challenges of training and management development grew. The Local Government Training Board undertook a survey in 1974 that highlighted that in the light of recent changes, especially Local Government Re-organisation, existing training patterns and facilities had been overtaken by developments. It also said it awaited the forthcoming White Paper.

Following on from the White Paper in 1975, The Recreation Management Training Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Anne Yates C.B.E. J.P, was appointed in 1977 by the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for the Environment to ‘review and make recommendations on the training of staff and the management of resources and facilities for sport and for all forms of outdoor recreation’. The report was the most comprehensive of its kind yet produced. There was wide consultation across the broad leisure and recreation sector. With the results of the different surveys the committee had commissioned, the report attempted to determine the skills, techniques and areas of knowledge that managers of different levels required and attempted to equate these with the existing network of recreation management courses available. This provided a sound basis for course providers. The main recommendations of the Yates Committee (to which ARM had made a submission) were viewed as evolutionary, not revolutionary and included: –

  1. The formation of Regional Training Committees with broad representation. These went ahead but lasted longer in some regions than others.
  2. A National Council for Leisure. This had been achieved, in a way, in 1975 as the professional institutes had jointly established ‘The National Advisory Council of Leisure Professions’. A National Council for Leisure was not achieved, although efforts for the third recommendation (single institute) tended to over-ride the idea.
  3. The establishment of a single professional institute for leisure managers.
7.4.5      The existing professional associations

When sports centres first arrived in the 1960s, there were several existing professional institutes and organisations across the broad leisure, sport and recreation scene (see Professional Sports & Recreation Bodies). They were: –

  • The Institute of Baths Management (IBM), formed in 1921 as the Association of Baths Superintendents, was a pre-dominant management organisation given its membership across the hundreds and hundreds of UK swimming pools. Subsequently it reflected the changing scene, becoming the Institute of Baths & Recreation Management (IBRM).
  • The Institute of Parks and Recreation Administration (IPRA), founded in 1926, represented a very large caucus of parks, grounds maintenance and horticultural staff.
  • The Institute of Municipal Entertainment, formed in 1947 as the Institute of Entertainment Managers, which had a significant membership presence in seaside resort councils, especially those with theatres and entertainment centres.
    • The Institute of Recreation Management was a small organisation with a number of experienced managers and directors.
  • The Recreation Managers Association was founded in 1956 as the Industrial Sports Clubs Secretaries Association.
  • The Association of Playing Field Officers founded in 1958. The membership spanned playing field officers in education authorities.
  • Other related professional organisations at that time included the Institute of Municipal Catering.

None of these organisations served employees in publicly provided indoor sports facilities, apart from the IBM which did so exclusively for swimming, diving and water polo.

7.4.6      The foundation, growth and success of the Association of Recreation Managers (ARM)
  • A decisive step

Pre-dating the Yates Committee by seven years was the foundation of the Association of Recreation Managers in 1970. We have seen that the Wolfenden Report in 1960, and other pressures through that decade, together with the roles of the CCPR and Sports Council, plus the re-organisation of local government, were the greatest influences on the provision of the early sports centres.  At the same time, the constitution of the Association of Recreation Managers [ARM] in 1970 was one of the most decisive landmarks for the recreation management profession. It was the first professional association rooted in sports centres and its success from 1970 to 1983 is reflected in the various successor organisations, right up to the present day in the form of ‘The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity’.

In ‘World Cup’ year, 1966, and with only 6 new public centres built (including Crystal Palace NSC and Harlow), the CCPR had convened a meeting of all those involved in the small number of existing centres and a wider audience from the gathering interest. This led to a series of informal sessions with managers and prospective managers from the developing range of centres and aspirations across the country. In particular, a conference organised in December 1967 at Crystal Palace by the CCPR and Sports Council addressed a range of facility management issues. A symposium for managers was also held at Billingham Forum in 1968. In 1969, with an increasing number of managers meeting in this way, they agreed to form an association. The 25 founding members attended ARM’s first Seminar that year at Afan Lido, Port Talbot. The Association was then formally constituted in February 1970.

As George Torkildsen, a key founding member of ARM wrote, “The formation of ARM stemmed from three sources – the growth of community sports and leisure centres, the first National Recreation Management Conference [at Crystal Palace in 1969] and a series of informal seminars organised by practising centre directors and managers during the late 1960s.” It was a natural progression for managers to meet and discuss emerging ‘best practice’ for this new and exciting concept and visit the newly built facilities.

Research has identified and confirmed some of the earliest members – George Torkildsen, Geoff Bott (1st Chairman), John Williams, Graham Jenkins, Denis Woodman, Bryan ‘Griff’ Jones, Brian Barnes, Bernard Warden, David Thomas, Ian Douglas, Roger Quinton, Barry Stowe and Geoff Gearing and Bryn Thomas were 15 of the 25 founding members confirmed so far. Other early Full Members recorded in the ARM News Archive were: – Jack Fidgett (Crawley SC), Andrew Templeton (Poole SC then Manchester), Peter Forward (Sobell and Waltham Abbey), John Alexander (Bellahouston), John Binks (The Grove, Haverhill, and Bury St. Edmunds), David Reed (Harlow and Poole SC), and Barry Dennis (Stockton YMCA).

  • Aims and objectives of ARM

The Association aimed to organise recreation directors and managers in furthering the knowledge of sport, recreation and recreation management.  In achieving this the objects of the Association were to:

  1. secure the advancement and facilitate the acquisition of that knowledge which constitutes the profession of a Recreation Manager.
  2. represent the interests of Recreation Managers on matters concerning their profession and to maintain and extend the usefulness of the profession for the public advantage.
  3. maintain relations with other professional associations in related fields.

4  promote the mutual interests of its members.

5  assist with advice on the design, operation and management of recreational facilities.

  • Membership eligibility and growth

ARM Membership certificate

Membership was of three types (full, associate and student) and was dependent upon the position of responsibility held.  At the outset the only criterion for full membership was that the applicant was employed in managing a sports centre. Associate membership was for assistant managers and others such as lecturers and sports council officers.

A National Executive Committee met regularly, and as regional committees were established, regional representatives sat on the Executive. A chairman was elected at the AGM each year, as was a Vice-Chairman who became Chairman the next year.  ARM was well served by two successive honorary secretaries in first Pete Saunders (well supported by Assistant Secretary, Doren Pinder),  and then Mike Halpin. All the officers and committee members for each year are recorded in the ARM News archive 1970-1983.

  • Important connections

The Association made its mark early with the Government. In March 1972, the Association’s Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer were invited to meet Mr. Eldon Griffiths, Junior Minister for Environment and Sport at the Department of in Marsham Street, London. Denis Howell, P.C., M.P., the first Minister of State for Sport and Recreation, was guest of honour and speaker at the ARM Annual Dinner in April 1977 in West Bromwich. He was a keen supporter of ARM.

Another keen supporter was Graham Jenkins’ brother, the famous actor Richard Burton, who not only paid for the ARM Chairman’s chain of office but also the first ARM Directory.

  • The rapid expansion

As centres burgeoned, ARM attracted nearly all centre managers and assistant managers into its ranks. The growth in its membership was phenomenal, moving from the first 25 members in 1969/70 to 123 in 1972, to over 450 in 1976 (see ARM members 1976) and 705 in 1977, and reaching over 1,000 by 1982, reflecting the growth of centres and recreation management. It quickly broadened its sphere of influence, catering for chief officers, recreation officers within local authorities, managers of swimming pools, trainee managers and students.

  • Regional activity across the UK

The rapid expansion was also reflected in the establishment of eleven very active regional branches, based on Sports Council Regions. However, it combined North East England with Scotland as a region. Attendance at these meetings across this region from Teesside to Forfar involved a lot of petrol! These regions had their own committees and organised regular meetings on topics of common interest and enabled the practicing recreation manager to exchange views and discuss problems with fellow managers. At that time, the originality of the sports centre concept and a desire for knowledge meant extremely well attended events, often visiting new facilities. Some regions also held annual golf tournaments.

  • An emerging business-like approach

From the mid-1970s the high rate of growth of the sector meant that ARM could exploit, with the expert and committed help of John S Turner & Associates, commercial opportunities such as events, seminars, exhibitions, and annual dinners, where gaining sponsorship was necessary. There was also a weekly mailing service to members. The mailing service was one of the key benefits of membership for ambitious members as many posts were advertised through it, and it was a valuable source of income to the Association.  The weekly brown envelope came through the post with the details of at least a dozen new job vacancies, as well as information sheets. Compared with today’s media and technology such a service must seem ‘Jurassic’!

One of the most significant commercial supporters of ARM activity was Ted Blake, who in addition to promoting his sports equipment company, Nissen, was passionate about raising the standards of management in the sector. Nissen sponsored various ARM events over the years.

The Association also extensively explored becoming an advertising sub-agent. A national scheme was considered at length whereby commercial advertising space would be let in participating sports centres on a national contract basis. The legal complexities of such a scheme, involving many local councils, eventually meant that it was not fully practical.

  • ARM News

The Association also published a vibrant quarterly newsletter which developed into a highly respected magazine, ARM News (see the full ARM News archive 1970-1983this gives a comprehensive picture of ARM’s very active 13-year life, with membership lists, event reports, regional activity, numerous special articles and centres and managers named. The archive represents a veritable treasure trove of practical centre management information and events and views of the period).

  • Seminars, events, awards and celebrations

ARM Event

The Association organised Spring and Autumn national seminars in a different part of the country each time. These were very well attended and one of the highlights of the ARM year. In the early days there was also a seminar for ‘2nds and 3rds in command’. After the inaugural seminar at Afan Lido in 1969, seminars were held each year, successively in Afan Lido (again), Broughton, Cardiff, Picketts Lock, Lilleshall, Largs, Chester, Billingham, Home Pierrepoint, Bournemouth, St Austell, Pontypool, Cobham, Nottingham, Sunderland, Saunton Sands, St. Annes, and in 1982, Maidstone. An Annual Dinner was also held each year. In September 1978 ARM organised a National Seminar in Nottingham on Recreation Management Training, which was attended by the Yates Committee Chairman, Anne Yates.

A trophy was awarded to the annual Region of the Year, ARM News had an Award for Article of the Year and there was also an award for a Student Dissertation. An annual national squash tournament for members was held (won, perhaps too many times, by Denis Secher!) and there was even a ‘B***** Awful Golfer Award’ for Bernard Warden!

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the foundation of ARM a special annual report was published.

  • Fellowships

By 1981 the Association had bestowed its first fellowships on 22 full members. These had been “members for at least five years, held recreation management responsibilities for ten years and had made a significant contribution to Association affairs”.

  • ARM and The Sports Council Management Award

One of the most influential factors in improved management of recreation centres has been The Sports Council Management Award. It was conceived by Ted Blake, initiated by the Facilities Unit of the Sports Council and enabled through sponsorship in its first five years by Nissen International (Sports Equipment) Ltd, and then by Vendepac. ARM supported the Award and provided some of the assessors for both regional and national finals.

o             The people made ARM!

There can be no doubt that ARM was very much a ‘people’ organisation. The early camaraderie amongst members was born of the ‘excitement’ of a new sector with high-profile public buildings. Former PE teachers were to the fore in creating A.R.M. Their outlook on sport and the new challenges of sports centres underpinned the ‘DNA’ of the organisation. Through this story of sports centres, we have recorded the names of numerous people, including many ARM members. However, those recorded are purely representative of the thousands involved in community sports centres across the years. ARM celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 1980.

o             ARM – The Conclusion

ARM Reunion 1980s

From 1970 to 1983 the Association of Recreation Managers was the most formidable force in sports centre management, and the development of the recreation management profession. A comprehensive insight into the development, membership and activities is provided by the full ARM News Archive.

  • Amalgamation into the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM)

From the beginning ARM recognised the need to increase and widen membership, develop a qualification, seek ‘chartered status’ and raise the status of sports managers in the eyes of other local authority officers. To this end they were proactive in talking to other bodies to seek amalgamation. Initially, in 1980 a Steering Committee (Amalgamation Opportunities) was formed with representatives of five of the existing professional organisations: –

  • The Association of Recreation Managers (ARM)
  • The Institute of Parks and Recreation Administration (IPRA)
  • The Institute of Municipal Entertainment (IME)
  • The Institute of Recreation Management (IRM)
  • The Institute of Baths and Recreation Management (IBRM)

[Full details – see Professional Sports & Recreation Bodies]

At a Steering Committee meeting In April 1981 it was concluded that an amalgamation of all five organisations, including IBRM and IPRA, was not possible in a timescale acceptable to ARM, IME, IRM and IPRA. The Steering Committee then proceeded, meeting almost monthly into 1982, with IBRM and RMA, which were not amalgamating, as observers to make the process as inclusive as possible. By July 1982 a Council Elect of the new Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management had been formed from the four organisations, which comprised a total membership of over 2,500. Annual General Meetings of the four organisations confirmed amalgamation and ILAM came fully into existence in 1983. The last ARM Executive Council meeting had been on December 10th, 1982 [Heading for ILAM).

Alec Collins

Alec Collins, a former Chairman of ARM, who had played an important role on the Steering Committee, was elected as the President of ILAM, for the first two years to maintain momentum. Alec was passionate about achieving chartered status to put recreation management on a par with other disciplines.

ILAM’s legal status was as an educational charity. It operated the same type of open membership system, with different grades based on experience, that ARM had used being based on experience and not admission by examination. It established ILAM Services as a commercial concern to carry out non-charitable activities in order to help support ILAM’s finances.

Over a period of 25 years, ILAM became a strong force for the wide range of sport, recreation and leisure interests embraced by the Institute. ARM had been an excellent pioneering organisation for sports centre managers then recreation management more generally. ILAM was to embrace a much broader sphere of activity through the various interest of its constituent members. ILAM operated with an elected Council of officers with regional representatives in addition.

  • ILAM – spheres of interest and activity: 1983-2008

For over a quarter of a century ILAM then took sport, recreation and leisure management into new territories under the banner of ‘positive professional development’. Its work covered a multitude of topics and embraced the best past practices and experience of its constituent bodies. Its biggest challenge was the task of communicating with a large membership – over 2,500 recorded at the start.

  • Staffing

ILAM operated with a full-time secretariat – 3 at the time of amalgamation- based at ILAM House (the former HQ of the IPRA) where most meetings of the National Council were held after an initial spell of London meetings.

ILAM employed a full time Education and Training Officer, with support staff, and an advisory panel of members trying to set up its own syllabus-based qualification in Leisure Management with an examination and project work. This was a struggle and relatively few people were attracted to study and fewer completed the course. Great efforts were made to try and work with universities, the Local Government Training Board and other organisations but that met quite a lot of resistance, particularly when it came to the suggestion that ILAM might vet courses in some way in order to ensure that they met the needs of managers. Bournemouth University was one of the first to set up an ILAM ‘approved’ degree. There was also input into other initiatives that were relevant to sports centre operation such as NVQs.

John S Turner & Associates was contracted to run advertising sales, mailing service, Leisure Manager and exhibition sales, as they had done successfully for ARM.

  • Annual Conference and Seminar

ILAM Conference, Harrogate 1986 l to r
Les Cullen (2nd ILAM President); John Knowles, Chair of ILAM’s Membership Services Committee; Hilary Sanders, Editor of Leisure Manager; Stuart Thornton, Chief Executive of ILAM; John Turner (JST Associates) and Mike Fulford, Vice-Chair Membership Services

ILAM organised an Annual National Conference from 1983, with the first three being held successively in Edinburgh, Torquay and Bournemouth and they continued through until the 1990s. As part of the ILAM Conference there was a substantial exhibition of suppliers to sports centres as equipment was evolving rapidly through the period of expansion in facilities – a valuable opportunity for managers and suppliers. Ted Blake’s Nissen was again a big supporter.

It also organized a National Seminar in the autumn specifically for sports and leisure centre interests. It did well in attracting centre managers, as It was a good place for sharing best practice on management issues and policies as they came along such as SASH, QUEST, and preparing for CCT, as well as research findings. They also proved popular with the Sports Council for presenting topics, before they started running their own seminars. ARM’s last National Seminar was in Autumn 1982 in Maidstone and ILAM’s first Autumn seminar was in 1983 at Saunton Sands Hotel, near Barnstaple, Devon.

  • Representations

Representations were made to government and agencies, such as Sports Council (Recreation Management Advisory Group) and RoSPA, and included information and input to Select Committees, CCT legislation, the introduction of Lottery funding for sport, scoping of Sports Council publications, and contributing to the development and introduction of Quest and research projects. The relevant Sports or DCMS minister and Chair or Chief Executive of Sports Council were speakers at major ILAM events.

  • Regional Activity

ILAM continued ARM’s successful practice of having regional groupings throughout the UK, and open regional seminars and meetings, often held in sports centres – especially the newly opened ones or award winners. Examples of one-day events included ‘The Maysfield Leisure Centre Fire Tragedy’, organised around the country, and ‘Centre Duty Management’ – important parts of the learning experience for managers. This was something that came moreorless to an end with introduction of CCT and having to compete for contracts!

  • Information Services

ILAM publications

With the help of grant-aid the pre-existing reference library was developed into an ‘Information Centre’ with a full-time Resources And Research Manager, Lucy Roper. Members could visit or raise enquiries. With such a large membership across the UK, publications and reference material was one of the most significant services for members and included most Sports Council and Government publications; other ‘Best Practice’ material including performance indicators for sports centres: updates on the whole panoply of CCT before, during and after: Establishing ‘Best Value’; safety policies for sports centres and risk assessments. A monthly ‘Leisure Manager’ magazine was published in full colour and the overall range of ILAM Facts Sheets was extensive. The grant-aid was tapered, producing obvious problems for the Information Service when the grant had run its course.

  • Changes over the 25 years of ILAM

The two most significant components of ILAM at the time of its formation were ‘parks management’ and ‘sports and leisure centre management’. Each were the subject of a specialist panel with separate consideration within the ‘Education panel’. However, over the years this work eventually became somewhat diluted, particularly by the challenges arising from the emergence of comprehensive leisure departments, and by changes that followed the introduction of CCT. Other panels included ‘Children’s Play’ and ‘(Community) Arts Management). The ‘Parks Management’ element had virtually disappeared by the early 2000s following CCT. (20 Years of ILAM).

(see Life of ILAM and ILAM 1983-2003 in pictures below).

ILAM in pictures 83-06

In summary, much of ILAM’s activity was focused on the dissemination of information, the organisation of events for members and representing the collective interest of ILAM in the wider world, indeed in a world that was changing rapidly as new leisure and political issues came to bear.

All this activity was of course to the benefit of the still relatively new sports centre management scene.

  1. Amalgamations move on to ISPAL and towards IMSPA

There were plans from 2004 for ISRM (previously IBRM), and the younger National Association of Sports Development Officers (NASD), to join with ILAM to form The Institute for Sports, Parks and Leisure (ISPAL). However, ISRM did not proceed at that time. So, in 2008, ILAM, after 25 years, joined with NASD to become ISPAL. Eventually, in 2011, the Institute of Sports Recreation Management (ISRM, formerly IBRM) decided to join forces with ISPAL, in a deal brokered by Sport England, to become the Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity (IMSPA).  Some former ARM members were involved in the formation of IMSPA.

Chartered status (as CIMSPA) was not achieved for the profession until 2012. By then perhaps the concept of professions in which jobs were dependent on the achievement of certain professional qualifications had perhaps rather gone out of fashion. CIMSPA had the challenge, in a new world, of being an equally successful organization to its predecessors. [The decade of CIMSPA – see Chapter 10].

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