Following the publication of the Charity Commission’s findings in its review of Kick It Out, Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out’s new Chair, has released a statement.

“The Board and I welcome the conclusion and closing of the case opened by the Charity Commission.  We have already commenced implementing the recommendations of the independent review and our new Board is fully committed to completing that exercise thoroughly.

“The Charity Commission review commenced in September 2018, when people associated with the charity contacted the Commission to express some concerns regarding staff welfare. Kick It Out then voluntarily disclosed to the Commission an issue regarding a report of a sexual assault committed by someone external to the organisation. The Commission opened a case and the Board of Kick It Out promptly instituted an independent review conducted by a QC, which was funded entirely by Kick It Out. The Commission was updated regularly throughout this process, and the report was issued and provided to it in full in August 2019.

“Importantly, the independent report specifically concluded that:

  • Kick It Out provided appropriate support to the victim who reported the sexual assault
  • Claims of bullying and harassment were rejected

“Whilst we are constrained by confidentiality obligations from publishing the entire QC-led report, in the interests of openness and transparency, today we publish all of the recommendations. You can read the recommendations for yourselves, but they fall into the following broad categories:

  • Provide specialist governance training for Board and senior management
  • Improve communication flows
  • Conduct a strategic review of activities
  • Focus on workloads and reducing risk of burnout
  • Introduce more effective staff support systems

“The recurring theme of the report, and the root cause of governance challenges, were around breakdowns in communications. The Board accepts and welcomes the recommendations. We have learned from this experience and have a refreshed Board where half of the members have been appointed in the last six weeks, including myself.

“The other new trustees are:

  • Chris Paouros: Chris is co-chair of Proud Lilywhites, Tottenham Hotspur’s LGBT+ Supporters Group. She is also a business consultant and an independent member of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board.
  • Cindy Butts: Cindy has spent her career in law enforcement and the justice system. Cindy was a Commissioner at the Independent Police Complaints Commission for over 5 years. Cindy holds a number of Board level positions including being a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission and a Lay Member of the Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
  • Kevin Miles: Kevin is Chief Executive of The Football Supporters Association. He was formerly Chair of Show Racism the Red Card and is a long-time anti-racism campaigner.

“They join our existing trustee team of Katherine Allen, John Nagle, James MacDougall and Iffy Onuora. It is a diverse, passionate and enthusiastic Board.

“We started work on implementing the recommendations some months ago and are committed to completing this programme by 3 May 2020. This will include a formal Governance Review and a Strategic Review.  We are pleased that the case has concluded and we are able to focus on our primary purpose: to tackle discrimination in football.

“We will be making no further comment.”

Appendix 1: Recommendations of Independent Review

1. I recommend the CEO obtains more support than that the Chair or trustees have previously provided her, with in order to ensure staff are working in an optimal way. I recommend consideration is given to KIO provide the CEO with a mentor to act as an independent sounding board with suitable expertise.

2. I recommend training in managerial skills. The new Chair should review and put in place a system for ongoing management training across the senior management team as a priority, including consideration of 1-1 training as there exists a spectrum of management skills with KIO.

3. I recommend the future performance reviews across the organisation are based on a 360-degree assessment

4. I recommend a support system be implemented for those who are subject to discriminatory abuse by virtue of their jobs or who worked in close proximity to hate speech.

5. I recommend a review of KIO’s strategic approach (led by the new chair) looking at where KIO should focus its attention and cut back (if appropriate). Trustee input is important to that review along with insights from funding bodies for setting priorities and avoiding duplication of efforts.

6. I think it may help set priorities if there is discussion with the funding bodies on what to cut back on or where to focus attention, and that management take a more strategic approach to the projects they engage with, and with the trustees, attempt to reduce the current workload.

7. I recommend staff are involved with the ongoing development of KIO strategy in a way the new Chair thinks fit, with due lessons learnt from the past about the importance of good communication and the sharing of information about internal policies.

8. I recommend that a list of trustee responsibilities is developed or reviewed by an expert consultant in charity law in consultation with KIO, with assistance from Governance Codes with specific attention as to how KIO trustee governance could improve.

9. I recommend training is provided by specialists for both trustees and managers together on governance and trustees’ legal obligations, once the new Chair starts. It should be tailored to ensure maximum impact bearing in mind the diversity of knowledge across the managers and trustees involved.

10. I recommend that in the future, trustees’ new or additional duties should be pre-arranged and agreed to in advance including attendance at KIO events over the year. Job descriptions should include all known work and identify how much time such work is estimated to take per month.

The Charity Commission findings are as follows: 

Kick It Out: regulatory compliance case conclusions

The Charity Commission has found a series of governance failures related to poor communication among the senior management and trustees of Kick It Out (KIO). This contributed to the slow sharing of information among the trustees of a serious incident involving a member of staff. The Commission found that this did not contribute to the occurrence of the serious incident or how the victim was substantively supported in its aftermath.

KIO is the equality and inclusion organisation for English football. KIO work in the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

In September 2018, people associated with the charity contacted the Commission to express concern about safeguarding, bullying and harassment at the organisation, as well as concerns about the charity’s leadership, management and culture.

The following month, KIO told the Commission about a serious incident connected with the charity concerning a report of an alleged sexual assault that happened in 2017. The Commission opened a case to assess the issues.

The Commission interviewed a number of people who had raised concerns. This information helped set the terms of reference for an independent review of the charity, commissioned by the trustees at the earliest opportunity and led by a QC.

The Commission was regularly updated throughout the review process, which was thorough. A full copy of the report, which included recommendations, was provided to the Commission in August 2019.

The 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.

The report made a series of recommendations including:

  • Specialist training for senior management and trustees in relation to governance, including trustees’ welfare responsibilities.
  • Improved communication and involvement of staff members in the on-going development of KIO’s strategy.
  • Scaling back staff workloads to reduce burnout.
  • The introduction of a more effective support system for staff to give individuals a means to raise concerns.

The charity now has a new chair and three other new trustees in post. The charity has already begun to implement the recommendations made. The Commission expects all of the recommended changes to be implemented within six months from the date of the charity’s first meeting as a new board that is being held early November.

Tracy Howarth, Head of Regulatory Compliance, said: “We recognise the role this charity has in tackling racism and all forms of discrimination in football. Just as in football, everyone involved in charities has the right to feel safe.

“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.

“The trustees are being held to account and they continue to make the significant changes at their charity that we know are already underway. We are sure the charity will learn from this experience. 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.”

The Commission provided formal regulatory advice and guidance, under section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011, to the charity’s trustees to ensure the recommendations contained in the report are implemented.