About the UKSDN



​Who we are

The UK Sport Development Research Network (UKSDN) has evolved from the European Sport Development Network. Established in 2008 in response to an identified need to build bridges between academia and sports industry practitioners, the Network has organised several successful conferences, published extensively in academic and professional journals and engaged in a variety of networking, advocacy and influencing work relating to sport development policy and practice in the UK.

UKSDN is a professional network whose vision is to create an environment in the UK where sport policy and practices are influenced and informed by innovative, research-informed collaborations between academics and practitioners. Our work focuses primarily on the UK but, importantly, is informed by insights from other parts of the world. We believe it is important for UK and Home Country policy makers and practitioners to be willing to ‘look outwards’ for new ideas and solutions to old and existing problems and, on occasions, for these to be informed by academic research.   

UKSDN is a dynamic, flexible and inclusive network. Our leadership team, which comprises a mix of academics and sports practitioners, meets three times per year and our work is progressed through informal groups, network conversation and extensive use of ICT. Our success as a Network is heavily reliant on the collective expertise, efforts and energy of the people involved.

Priorities and focus

Our work is broadly aligned to UK and Home Country Government/Sports Council policy and strategy but not exclusively so. Our current priorities and focus includes:

  • The policy and practice of sport development, including the interfaces between sport development and sport management;
  • The contribution of academic research to sport policy and professional practice;
  • Building mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations between academics, policy makers and practitioners;
  • Developing a network of reflective, critically engaged academics and practitioners able to influence sport policy and professional practice debates;
  • Promotion of collaborative, innovative and applied research encompassing varied methodologies, interdisciplinary approaches, and applications of new and existing theory to practical, real world problems; Advisory/critical friend role on key policy and practice issues 


We work with a broad range of partners who share our ambitions and goals. Broadly speaking our partnership activity is structured at 3 levels:

Core partners – close working relationships based on significant mutual interest and shared values, sometimes enshrined in semi-formal partnership agreements;

Supporting partners – significant common ground but a more informal working relationship;

Affiliate partners – open access to UKSDN services.

Any partnerships activity must be mutually beneficial and we set realistic expectations for what we can be achieved by working together.   

Our services

We have plans to establish our own journal and becoming a membership body in which organisations and/or individuals pay a small fee in return for which they receive some or all of the following services:

  • Attendance of our annual conference, seminars and events
  • Published outputs in academic and professional journals
  • Interactive website and social media activity  
  • Engagement in collaborative research projects

The UKSDN journal will be a key tool in our work. Our goal is for it to be academically strong, practically applied and accessible to policy makers, practitioners and academics;​

How you can get involved?

If you wish to get involved with the UKSDN please contact any member of the Leadership Group - see contact details below.

UKSDN leadership group members and contacts: 

Chair: Chris Cutforth          

Vice Chairs: Julie Brunton

Nigel Harrison

Research lead: Chris Mackintosh

Policy advisor: James Allen

Equity lead: Louise Morby

Advisory member without portfolio - Richard Medcalf

Scotland hub lead: Sharon Clough

Wales hub lead - currently vacant

Northern Ireland/Ireland hub lead - currently vacant