Stuart Weir wrote this piece on the crisis in governance in UK Athletics…
More governance issues at UK Athletics.
Earlier this month, UK Sport published a summary of findings from its independent review into UK Athletics (UKA), conducted by Sue Street. The purpose of the review was to “recommend areas of change and organisational development to ensure that the leadership, governance and management of Athletics at the UK level is ‘fit for the future’“.
UKA responded to the report: “UK Athletics and the four Home Country Athletics Federations; Athletics Northern Ireland, England Athletics, Scottish Athletics and Welsh Athletics welcome the findings of the UK Sport Review of UK Athletics and are committed to working together positively and collectively to support the recommended change plan”.
40 separate interviews with 50 different individuals were carried out to ascertain opinion across the UK on the state of the sport in addition to reviewing written submissions.
The report does not mince its words, stating “the scars inflicted as a result of the period of difficulty within Athletics are clear to see. The impression formed during the review was that Athletics in the UK is not (currently) in a good position”.
The report also referred to opinions expressed about “a general culture of mistrust” in the sport and also suggested that among stakeholders in the sport, there was “a desire for more transparency and openness, particularly around decision-making. It was also suggested that the culture has not been as collaborative as is necessary for the sport to succeed”.
One point that many will resonate with is the statement that the current lack of a Head of Coaching who would lead on a strategy for Coaching for Athletics in the UK” was “a gaping hole within the sport”.
On the positive side, the report stated that “a consistent message throughout was that all is not lost. There is an appetite within the sport to make this work, with contribution from all parties. The recent collaborative approach adopted from new leadership within UKA has been well received within the sport, and it would be advisable to maintain this.”
UKA took the opportunity to highlight a document it had produced last year but which has not been widely distributed called An Athletic Nation, a “headline strategic vision document sets out our ambition to build on this foundation and play our collective part in delivering and supporting the sport to realise sustained success over the next ten years”.
As reported earlier this year, UKA has had far too many changes at the top in recent years. Hopefully the appointment of Joanna Adams as CEO will begin a period of stability. With Athletics receiving just under Â£27 million [$36 million] of government funding through UK Sport for the period 2017-2021, the stakes are high.
In terms of timescale, the report stated “it is recommended that a decision on the optimum course of action for the period of May – October 2020 be made swiftly and that all recommendations have clear timelines for implementation”.
Watch this space.
1. UK Sport is the nation’s high-performance sports agency investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Its mission is to work in partnership to lead sport in the UK to world class success. UK Sport is accountable to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. UK Sport has a very clear remit at the ‘top end’ of Britain’s sporting pathway, with no direct involvement in community or school sport. UK Sport strategically invests National Lottery and Exchequer income into Olympic and Paralympic Sport.
2. The report is available by Control/clicking summary of findings document
3. Sue Street was Permanent Secretary [he most senior civil servant of a ministry] in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2001-6 and was later a strategic adviser to Deloitte.
4. The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While UK Athletics is responsible for the sport in the whole of the UK, there are separate governing bodies (eg Scottish Athletics) in the four countries. While there is one British team at the Olympics, World Championships etc, the four countries complete separately as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games.
5. An Athletic Nation is available at https://www.uka.org.uk/governance/an-athletic-nation-2020/