UK Sport promotes Liz Nicholl to be chief executive

From UK Sport

Outstanding: Liz Nicholl OBE, now CEO of UK Sport

Liz Nicholl OBE has been appointed chief executive at UK Sport, a promotion from her present post of chief operating officer.

Liz joined the UK Sport in 1999, and as CEO she replaces John Steele, who left on in July to become chief executive of the Rugby Football Union. She will start her new role with immediate effect.

As CEO, Liz Nicholl will be responsible for leading the organisation as it works to maximise British athlete success at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as seeking to ensure that both the best structure and resources available to high performance sport are in place in the years beyond.

Baroness Sue Campbell CBE, the chair of UK Sport, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Liz will be our new CEO. From an outstanding field of nearly 50 candidates, she demonstrated that she had the best mix of skills, experience and knowledge to lead the organisation at this vital time.

“As well as seeking to ensure that we continue to deliver against our performance and international responsibilities in the build up to London 2012, UK Sport is engaged in significant discussions around resources and the structure of sporting delivery in this country in the future.

“Having worked with Liz for many years, I am convinced she is the right person to lead these discussions, and will ensure the best result for British sport whilst leading an outstanding high quality team.”

Liz Nicholl said: “I feel very privileged to be selected to take on this role at such a significant and exciting time for British sport.

“I look forward to building on John’s fantastic work and leading the world class team of people here at UK Sport, who are totally committed to developing a world leading high performance system to support success in 2012 and beyond.  We are also working hard to position the UK to secure other great sporting events in future.  The current economic climate and proposed structural changes present us all with some challenges but our clear focus will ensure that we remain on track.”

Rod Carr, UK Sport Board Member and a member of the Appointment Panel, said: “We interviewed a number of high quality candidates, but Liz stood out as the right person to lead UK Sport at this critical time.

“Liz’s experience means she is perfectly placed not only to drive forward UK Sport in the run-up to London 2012, but also help ensure proposed changes to the high performance system in the UK have the needs of our sports and athletes at their heart.”

Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport, said: “Liz Nicholl’s appointment will bring experience and continuity to UK Sport at a crucial time in the build-up to London 2012.  Her key role is to deliver podium success but she will also have to manage the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review and play a key role in bringing together UK Sport and Sport England post 2012.”


  • UK Sport has also announced today that Tim Hollingsworth, currently Director of Policy & Communications, has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer at UK Sport.  He will also start his new role with immediate effect.
  • In making the CEO appointment, UK Sport worked with an external recruitment consultant and the role was advertised on The Times/Sunday Times website as well as Sportcal and UK Sport. Almost 50 applications were received, with a shortlist of six being interviewed by a panel featuring Baroness Sue Campbell, Rod Carr, Louise Martin, Marc Woods, Paul Bolt (DCMS) and Alison Bataller (UK Sport HR).
  • UK Sport is the strategic lead body for high performance sport in the UK.  It invests Exchequer and National Lottery funds in Britain’s best Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes to maximise their chances of success on the world stage. For London and beyond, a third stream of private sector funding – Team 2012 – complements this public investment. UK Sport also co-ordinates the bidding and staging of major international sporting events in the UK, and works with National Governing Bodies and other partner organisations to help them build positive working relationships with International Federations and other international bodies. Furthermore, UK Sport’s well-established International Development assistance programme is recognised worldwide, and UK Sport is the lead delivery agency for International Inspiration. Find out more at
  • The Sports Journalists’ Association is proud to have UK Sport as one of our lead sponsors, in a partnership that stretches back to the 1970s, when the then Sports Council first worked together with us to stage awards to recognise sports writing in this country.