chapter  4
29 Pages

The Impact of Devolution on Sport Policy

In the previous chapter it was suggested that most governments fail to leave a signifi cant policy legacy but that Labour was an exception, with the introduction of devolution providing the clearest evidence. While sport had been a devolved responsibility in Northern Ireland for some time, the Devolution Acts of 1998 transferred responsibility for sport from Westminster to Edinburgh and Cardiff , thus enabling both countries, potentially at least, to shape the development of policy much more eff ectively than in the past. The emphasis on potentiality for, rather than inevitability of, divergence is important as recent research on devolved government draws attention to the dominance of incremental patterns of policy change in mature political and welfare systems (Greer 2004; Pierson 2001; Wincott 2005). Thus signifi cant divergence may take a considerable time to become evident and poses the policy analyst the daunting challenge of calibrating divergence and determining the point at which modest differentiation becomes distinctiveness. However, a number of analyses of policy development since 1998 have concluded that devolution has resulted in divergence in some policy sectors where there was previously a high degree of uniformity with England, for example, in health (Greer 2006) or greater divergence in policy subsectors where there was already a degree of diff erence, for example, in higher education (Keating 2006).