Why is this change happening?

Ultimately the leaderships of the sports believe this change will be a catalyst for a much brighter future, seeing our sports grow and flourish, attract and retain participants, and see success both on and off the field.

In 2013 the leaderships of the two federations and BaseballSoftballUK asked themselves whether having two national governing bodies and one development agency was the optimal structural model for the sports. Since then a significant amount of effort has gone into exploring that question and the conclusion points firmly towards change.

The change envisaged is to integrate into a single body. The benefits of changing outweigh the effort to get us there, although as with any major change programme there will be transition activities to undertake. Going through change can create uncertainty for those involved. These FAQs are intended to be part of a process that helps address and remove as much uncertainty and anxiety as possible.

Some of the key benefits of moving to a single organisation include: requiring fewer people to govern (currently three boards require 30+ people); creating a single identity for marketing and commercial purposes; creating a cohesive strategy and vision for the sports; providing a single integrated financial model; reduce the number of “internal” interfaces to be managed; provide consistency to safeguarding with a single line of accountability.

What is the existing set-up?

The British Baseball Federation and the British Softball Federation are the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) for baseball and softball in the UK. Since 2000, BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK), as the development agency for baseball and softball in the UK, has provided services to the BBF and BSF with the aim of developing and increasing the levels of participation, skill and achievement in the sports. This occurs at both youth and adult levels, from school and grassroots through domestic adult clubs up to the Great Britain national teams.

Sport England granted BSUK £3m for the period 2013-2017 in response to its Whole Sport Plan. Projects include regional support for youth baseball and softball development programmes, support for workplace softball, coaching and coach training, facility development, and expansion and strengthening of clubs throughout the country, including helping with the achievement of Clubmark accreditation.

Who/What will be the new NGB?

The NGB will be a joint single organisation for baseball and softball in the UK.  The NGB will represent both baseball and softball in the domestic, national and international competitive arenas.  It will be setup to develop, grow and run the sports in the UK.

It will be made up of a group of experienced individuals (paid staff and volunteers) to cover all aspects of baseball and softball.

Will this change give our sports more influence / profile / money?

As a single organisation, we will be aligned with most other nations or countries as combined sports and will therefore reduce any ambiguity over the individual organisations’ responsibilities and influencing ability.  This will improve our effectiveness in terms of speaking with one voice nationally and improves our chances of influencing others when decisions are made that affect our sports.

We can leverage off the individual sports’ strengths when trying to influence others, raising our profile and looking for funding from a variety of sources.  We expect that the funding we do receive will be able to be used more efficiently across the two sports therefore improving the outcomes for our participants.

Who will run baseball and softball on a day-to-day level?

The new British Baseball/Softball Board will ultimately be responsible for implementing policy that is fed through from elected commissions (or whatever we decide to call the new bodies).

We haven’t quite worked out the finer details yet but there will still be the need for plenty of elected or appointed volunteers (maybe league commissioners and such) who will ensure that leagues and tournaments are run properly and that baseball and softball grassroots is represented at board level.

What we envisage is that these volunteers, unlike now, will have fewer on the ground operational responsibilities.  We will be using the professionals in the office to provide us with services like setting up fixtures and the like.

What opportunities will there be for members to contribute to the sports’ management and governance?

Although a single management team will reduce the need for volunteers to wear many different hats in the existing triangle of organisations, both sports will continue to need volunteers – some with specific skills – from within and from outside the playing communities.

Membership of the single body, whether it be by player, team or club, entitles all participants to a vote at the AGM and the opportunity to make views known through the Congress which advises and monitors the Board.

Within the new body, a commission for each sport will, in parallel, continue the primary work of existing Federations in organising inter-league play, national competitions and team selection for international squads. Committed sport-specific individuals will still be needed for these roles.

Congress will comprise both elected and appointed volunteers from across the sports, including those presently playing outside the orbit of existing Federations, providing opportunities to contribute to and influence the future of the sports at a high level.

The company Board will continue to comprise directors nominated from within the sports, or selected from external expertise by the sports, as well as independent directors who may be nominated or self-nominated, but appointed only after scrutiny from a nominations commission tasked with finding the best available skill-specific resources required by the new body.

Committed members therefore have many ways to contribute to the future of our sports: the most critical is the exercise of knowledge and judgement in appointing those who will sit at the highest levels of our new, integrated structure.

What are the timings for this change and what are the key actions ahead?

We are working toward a 1 April 2017 start date for the new organisation as this aligns with the next Sport England funding cycle and with BSUK’s financial year which makes for a cleaner transition. In simple terms this means that the new entity would exist from this date, although it may be that we will still be in the process of transition, particularly in terms of formal governance arrangements and staffing.

The key actions ahead are as follows:

  • Establish the legal structure of the new entity
  • Provide the detail to the governance structure
  • Review and progress all work streams for the organisation
  • On-going consultation with the membership

No structural change can be put into place until there is formal sign off by the British Baseball Federation and British Softball Federation members. It is intended that this will be presented to the membership to vote on in November 2016 which means that over the next few months the focus will very much be on consultation.

What is the consultation process?

The Structural Review began in earnest in the autumn of 2014 when an independent facilitator, Alistair Gray of Renaissance and Co., canvassed the views of 100+ contributors from within the sports and across many NGBs, other sporting bodies and funding agencies. He then attended the BSF League Heads’ Forum in Birmingham and the BBF AGM in Leicester to hear further views of representatives of the sports’ community and their ideas for change and improvement. This was followed up by a wide-ranging online feedback exercise with well over 500 respondents.

Now that the look of the possible new structure has started to take shape, there will be a further consultation process. This began with a community webinar on 14 April 2016 and the launch of this microsite, which will be regularly updated with new information.

For a more detailed overview of the process up to April 2016, please read this introductory article.

Who or what is the Structural Review Project Group?

The Structural Review Project Group (SRPG) is a small group made up of representatives from the Federation boards and BSUK, which is co-ordinating the Structural Review process. To find out more about its members, please visit the Project Group page.