Centralized grassroots sport policy and 'new governance': A case study of County Sports Partnerships in the UK - unpacking the paradox

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This article offers the first empirical account of the role of County Sport Partnerships (CSPs) in delivering grassroots sport policy in the UK. Current leading academic approaches to policy delivery in the UK suggest that we have witnessed a move from 'big' government to governance by and through networks and partnerships. Such a process is said to have led to a dispersal of power among many actors and diminished the ability of the state to control policy. Our empirical study of CSPs - including 10 in-depth interviews with key actors - suggests otherwise: grassroots sport policy delivery does take place via 'partnerships', but such arrangements are not to be confused with 'new governance'. On the contrary, government policy delivery has never been so centrally managed, monitored and controlled.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011


  • grassroots sport policy, County Sport Partnerships, 'new' governance, UK sport policy