The financial mess at UK Athletics plus a double dose of doping
Hi Andy! Yes I saw your piece yesterday and enjoyed it. The collision between tradition and innovation has long held athletics back. I was aware about 18 months ago of World Athletics actively courting potential private equity investors to revamp its existing competition assets and create new ones. But apparently it pulled back from a deal. I do think there is scope for a vastly improved 'circuit' but this would only work if the big shoe companies get behind it (as the athletes are in many ways controlled by them). Certainly, the core attractions of the sport make it ripe to build on
The problem that has to be addressed to support the rebuilding of the sport is the decline in participation levels which commenced prior to the pandemic, track and field was already seeing a major decline in participation especially from U17 upwards until we reach the masters age groups where we have seen an increase. This decline is not only being seen in the number of athletes but also the key volunteers especially officials. EA produced a survey which gave an indication of what the problems were, promised to make changes but have failed to do so. My own group interviewed more than 2000 youths that have dropped out of sport, the countries included UK, US of A and France, I passed my results on to EA but still no action. We are seeing more and more paralympic athletes changing sports due to the problems in classification. The sport needs to get professional if we are to overcome the financial troubles and this must include allowing sponsorship at grass roots level including hace sponsors names on the kit including running vest. Having spent nearly 30 years in track and field the decline in participation levels coupled with the financial mismanagement over the last few years does not hold out much hope, as one leading event manager said to me when being made redundant "they do not seem to have any ambition!"
Really interesting post Ed. Coincidentally, I wrote about athletics in my newsletter yesterday too (but with a lot less grounding in experience). What do you think about the opportunity for a private investor coming in to the sport?
Given athletics are the crown jewel at the Olympics, it’s odd to me just how little attention those athletes are given for the years inbetween