Sport England funding award for 2017-2021

Andy Parkinson, CEO of British Rowing, gives an update on British Rowing’s operations following the recent funding award from Sport England for the period 2017-2021


Andy Parkinson, CEO of British Rowing, gives an update on British Rowing’s operations following the recent funding award from Sport England for the period 2017-2021.

“Every four years, British Rowing and other National Governing Bodies receive investment from Sport England to support their strategic aims and operations. This sits alongside investment from UK Sport to support the GB Rowing Team for the Olympic and Paralympic cycle.

“At the end of April 2017, we received final confirmation of our total funding from Sport England for the 2017-21 cycle. Overall, and in line with previous communications, investment in what Sport England terms our ‘core market’ has been reduced by around 40%. The core market comprises anyone that is regularly active and already has a sporting habit, which in rowing equates to our existing community of clubs, schools, universities and other organisations. The level of reduction in this area is consistent with other National Governing Bodies.

“British Rowing’s Vision and Strategic Objectives, created in consultation with the rowing community, remain the same. However, with less external investment it has been necessary for British Rowing to undertake a review of the services provided to the rowing community in England, and in some cases, reshape the business and operational models that support them.

“A key priority for British Rowing remains providing support to our 575 affiliated rowing clubs and the wider rowing community. In order to do this most effectively, a new staffing structure is being put in place, including the appointment of three Community Support Managers. These roles will cover all regions and will work to support clubs at a strategic level. A major priority for the Community Support Managers will be to work with the rowing community on the development and roll-out of a suite of new products and services designed to provide clubs with the relevant tools and knowledge they need to support their day-to-day operations, as well as their long-term ambitions.

“At the core of this will be a best-practice ‘How To’ guide that addresses the real-world challenges clubs face and the areas where they need the most support. It will include advice on member management, club governance, finance and tax, law, data protection, facilities development, diversity and inclusivity, community engagement and marketing. Alongside this, and thanks to significant Sport England investment in this area, we will also develop a new online club membership management system that will be offered as a benefit to British Rowing affiliated clubs.

“As a result of this restructure, I am sad to say that following a full and formal consultation process throughout May 2017, seven members of British Rowing staff have been made redundant and four existing vacancies will not be filled. This decision has not been taken lightly. We have taken our time to consider all the possibilities and discussed in detail the implications of the new structure. Unfortunately, this is the best solution for British Rowing and the wider sport given the recent reduction in core funding. I want to personally thank all of British Rowing’s dedicated staff for their continued support during this period of uncertainty. While British Rowing’s presence in the field and at head office will be reduced, we firmly believe that the new structure will, under the circumstances, continue to offer the best possible level of support to the rowing community.

“In addition to this work, we will be continuing our efforts to increase mass market participation in rowing through indoor rowing, and have received investment from Sport England specifically to achieve this objective. Key components of this initiative include education and training within the health and fitness operator market, a mass-market consumer campaign to raise the profile of this exciting part of the sport, and commercial partnerships to support the longer term vision for indoor rowing. With a current market size of 1.3 million indoor rowers and a potential market of nearly 16 million, this area of the sport presents a huge opportunity for growth.

“As a progressive and innovative organisation, we will also be prioritising and investing in new projects and activities that will help us to present and promote rowing in a more relevant way. This in turn should help us to maximise the value of the sport. This includes completing the roll-out of the new British Rowing competition framework, reviewing our world-class education and training provision, assessing the feasibility of new race formats, establishing a new charitable foundation to support grassroots rowing, and reviewing British Rowing’s data management systems to make them fit for purpose.

“We have also recently initiated a review of rowing in schools in collaboration with the Youth Sport Trust. This project is incredibly important for the future of the sport and will be the pre-cursor to a new strategy in this area.

“As the National Governing Body, we will continue to provide key services to the sport across a range of areas including welfare, safeguarding, water safety, clean sport and integrity, disability rowing, international relations, PR and reputational management, while at the same time supporting and preparing a world class national team for international competition.

“While this update has talked a lot about finance and investment, I am very aware that the real value of the sport lies in our fantastic volunteers and participants. We have seen impressive growth in the sport over the last six months with strong event entries, increased activity in clubs and a noticeable uplift in British Rowing membership. This is a sport that achieves success by pulling together, and with your support it will continue to grow and thrive.”

Annamarie Phelps CBE, Chairman of British Rowing, concluded: “The Board has been consulted on plans to review services and reshape the organisation, aligned to our Strategic Plan, which was drawn up in consultation with all our stakeholders. This is a difficult time but one that requires change and re-alignment and we believe that this is the best approach given the financial constraints we face. The Board, Andy and I are confident that we have the right people and tools in place to achieve our ambitious plans. Now is a time for the rowing community to come together to help ensure the long-term sustainable future of the sport.”

A full update on British Rowing’s plans for 2017-2021 will appear in the August/September edition of Rowing & Regatta magazine, as well as online at

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