An independent review of football’s anti-racism organisation, Kick It Out, has found a series of governance failings including poor communication and a lack of training in staff welfare, the Charity Commission has revealed.
The review followed complaints to the commission by former employees about the culture and management at the organisation, including one woman who had suffered a serious sexual assault at a working residential away day.The perpetrator was not a Kick It Out employee or official, and although the charity’s management believed they tried to support the woman as well as they could, the victim felt they lacked adequate expertise and procedures.
The Charity Commission opened a “regulatory compliance case” a year ago, and in response Kick It Out, which is funded by the Football Association, Premier League, EFL and Professional Footballers’ Association, commissioned an independent review, led by a QC. Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of the campaign for 25 years since its formation in 1993, resigned at that time, infuriated that he had not been kept fully informed over internal discussions about the staff concerns.
In a statement, the Charity Commission said: “The [independent] report identified a number of failings. There was evidence of poor communication and a lack of training in key areas such as governance and staff welfare. Many staff felt they were not managed well by the senior management team, with some feeling overworked and inadequately supported.”
There were “a series of governance failures related to poor communication among the senior management and trustees”, the commission said. That “contributed to the slow sharing of information among the trustees” of the sexual assault, although it did not diminish the support given to the victim.
Kick It Out, which last month announced the appointment of a new chair, Sanjay Bhandari, responded by pointing out that complaints of bullying and harassment had not been upheld by the review. It said it accepted the review’s findings and agreed to implement all the recommendations by May next year.
These included: providing specialist governance training for board and senior management; improving the flow of communication within the organisation; conducting a strategic review of its activities; focusing on staff workloads and “reducing risk of burnout” and introducing “more effective staff support systems”.
Three new trustees have been appointed recently to the board, which the charity described as “refreshed”.
Tracey Howarth, the head of regulatory compliance at the Charity Commission, said: “The trustees of Kick It Out should have made protecting those who came into contact with their charity from harm a governance priority. The charity did not fully deliver on this expectation, largely due to failures in communication within the charity … It is because of the importance of Kick It Out’s work, particularly in the current climate, that the trustees understand that it matters just as much how the charity delivers on its purpose, as what it delivers, so that it can continue to be successful and thrive in the future.”