Daily Express

New UK boss plans facelift


- By Alex Spink

THE new boss of British athletics has pledged to “reinvent” the stricken sport after its flagship event was lost to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The cancellati­on of the Anniversar­y Games at the London Stadium will cost UK Athletics £1million and leaves it heavily reliant on UK Sport securing extra Government funding to get it through the crisis.

Joanna Coates, chief executive of UKA, admitted scrapping their biggest money-spinner in July would mean a substantia­l reduction in income.

But she also declared that it offered a chance to give athletics as a spectator sport a “facelift”.

“What we need to do is create events that are more relevant and sell out,” said Coates.

“The Muller Anniversar­y Games has not been selling out recently.

“Fans have been voting with their money and saying, ‘We don’t want to come and watch this any more’.

“I think athletes feel the same. Quite a few have kind of said, ‘We want our events to be a bit more sexy’.

“We need to understand we’re competing with the cinema, all sorts of things.

“I believe we can create more relevant events, shorter in format, where you still get a crowd but you don’t have the massive operationa­l costs that come with putting two days on at the London Stadium.” Coates, below, enjoyed success popularisi­ng netball in her previous job through a 10-year strategy of growing participat­ion and making recreation­al players become fans. “Athletics has got more recreation­al runners than I ever had netballers to turn into fans who ultimately buy a ticket,” she said. “But the offer has to be right and the offer at the moment is not right.” Referring to world champions Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, she added: “Look at the incredible role models in athletics that are household names. We don’t use them enough.

“The basis of the sport is there. It just needs reigniting and a plan putting in place. “We are going to ask the fans what kind of event they want to come to and we will ask the athletes what kind of event they want to participat­e in. “Then, we will reinvent it.”

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 ??  ?? ROLE MODEL Coates says that Dina Asher-Smith, centre, is not used enough by her country
ROLE MODEL Coates says that Dina Asher-Smith, centre, is not used enough by her country

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