UKA leadership crisis deepens
BELEAGUERED UKA CHAIRMAN NOW FACES VOTE AS OPPOSITION MOUNTS
DOMESTIC athletics heads into Christmas with no resolution to the leadership crisis which has dogged the sport all winter,
writes Jason Henderson.
Richard Bowker, the beleaguered chairman of UK Athletics, appears doomed in his role after a UK members’ council meeting and AGM last Friday showed little confidence in his plans for the sport.
An immediate vote on his position at the helm of the national governing body was blocked due to a rule that says 28 days’ notice must be given, but a formal 28-day process has now started, although Bowker could resign before that period is up.
UKA has also yet to advertise the position of chief executive following the resignation of
Niels de Vos in the autumn. De Vos has since taken up a role in Eugene to help oversee the 2021 IAAF World Championships, while Nigel Holl has been acting as interim chief executive in Birmingham.
It is almost two years to the day since UKA quietly announced the news that Bowker would replace Ed Warner as its chairman. A press release that went out on December 22 in 2016 received little coverage at the time, in stark comparison to the wellattended press conference that marked the beginning of Warner’s chairmanship in 2007.
This was partly because Warner continued in the role throughout 2017 while Bowker waited in the wings, but since taking on the role fully the man who made a name for himself in the railways industry has failed to make an impact.
The political turmoil was covered over 10 pages in last week’s issue of AW. In the magazine, South of England chairman Mike Winch was scathing of UKA’s recent governance, describing it as a “muck-up”, while the Scottish Athletics chairman Ian Beattie talked about UKA’s “bunker mentality” and the need to be more open.
Historically, political turmoil has regularly blighted domestic athletics, but the internet era is allowing people from grassroots athletics to get involved in the issues more than ever.
For example John Downes, the 1996 Inter-Counties crosscountry champion, has been gathering support via a series of vlogs and he has described
AW’s coverage last week as “a seminal moment”.
Apart from a short statement in last week’s issue, UKA has declined to comment on the problems all winter.
Under fire: UKA chairman Richard Bowker and, inset,some of last week’s AW coverage