New 'England Athletics' update from UKA
Date:22 Dec 2004
Article:The new England Athletics 22 Dec 2004 11:29

This document provides more detail about England Athletics – the new organisation that is to be established in 2006 as a key part of the modernisation of athletics in the UK. The intention of this paper is not to provide an in depth account of every issue but to summarise several months of discussions and give a context to the decisions that need to be made in 2005.
There is still a huge amount of work to do in implementing the changes recommended in the Foster report. The Project Team will need the advice and support of all involved in the sport of athletics if we are to deliver our main objective – a forward looking sport capable of prospering in today’s challenging environment.
The Foster report was published in May 2004. These are the main recommendations as they relate to the sport in the UK and particularly England.
Q: Why does athletics need to change?
A: The sport of athletics could do better. Athletics is fragmented, has no clear system of accountability and isn’t achieving its potential as a sport. There are lots of reasons for this. The Foster report mentions many of them and whilst structural change will not solve all the problems, it should deliver an outward-looking sport capable of attracting and retaining more people.
Q: What are the principles for the sport’s organization?
A: The principles are outlined in the Foster report. Briefly :-
1. Devolution: Responsibility, authority and accountability should be devolved to the appropriate level closest to the point at which the sport is delivered
2. Flat Structure: as few levels in the structure as possible
3. Clear Separation of functions: maximum clarity about the purpose, roles and responsibilities of each organisation, with minimum duplication or overlap
4. Inclusion: clear and widely understood arrangements to ensure that individual athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, regular spectators, club administrators and others can have a ‘shout’ on policy issues and monitor and influence the way the sport is managed
5. Authority matched to responsibility: those with responsibilities for which they are accountable must have the authority to make decisions
The report is also clear regarding the characteristics of future organisations and structures responsible for athletics in the UK.
· The organisation and administration of athletics must facilitate achievement and reflect good practice
· As a modern enterprise in a modern world, it requires a modern approach to organisation and management
· A new beginning, a new organisation, proud of the past but suited to the modern world and built on a modern approach to management
· Partnership thinking, an acknowledgement of interdependence between organisations.
Q: Why is England Athletics being created?
A: England Athletics is being created to replace the AAA of England and the Territories in their roles as governance and managerial organisations responsible for athletics in England. This will be a light touch organisation with a Chief Executive. The new organisation will:-
“have operational responsibility for all aspects of athletics in England except the management of elite athletes and anti-doping work.” (Foster Report p21).
The defining feature of athletics in England will be the regions.
“Everything appropriately possible should be devolved to the regional level.”
Q: What does the Foster report recommend for UKA ?
A: The Foster report recommends UKA fulfils a more strategic, higher-level role. The specific responsibilities are outlined on Page 19. The implications of this are covered on Pages 20 –22. A paragraph of particular importance is:-
“Becoming a genuinely strategic body would obviously have implications for the size, structure and staffing of UK athletics. What it now does with an England focus would be devolved to English Athletics and its regions, and this would have implications for the composition of the top team and the board.”
Q: What’s been going on since the report was published?
A: Following the publication of the Foster Report in May 2004, a series of working groups were established to develop the necessary detail to implement the recommendations of the report. The process has been overseen by a Project Board chaired by Sir Andrew Foster, providing continuity from his initial review of the sport. This board has representatives from each of the home country athletics associations, UK Athletics, Sport England and UK Sport.
Members of the working groups were selected by the Project Board to offer a mix of people from all areas of the sport – volunteers, officials, coaches, athletes and administrators – supplemented by experiences from business and other sports. The working groups are:
1. New England Athletics
2. Membership and data
3. Legacy pump-priming
4. Internal athletics relationships ie between the associations
5. External athletics relationships ie between the associations and the sports councils / Government
Jack Buckner who was appointed as Project Director in September is managing the working groups, and the implementation of the Foster Report recommendations.
Q: Who was on the new England Athletics Working Group?
A: The detailed plans for England Athletics have been produced by a working group. The group was designed to be reflect views across the whole of England, with additional independent expertise in business, law and sports administration. The members included Jack Buckner, George Bunner, Chris Carter, Geoff Durbin Abi Ekoku, John Griffiths, David Moorcroft, Walter Nicholls, Ken Oakley, Peter Radcliffe and Karena Vleck.
Q: What are the group’s main decisions?
· A new company, England Athletics will be established to manage delivery of the athletics strategy in England from April 2006 onwards.
· An interim company is being formed, chaired by Peter Radcliffe, to oversee the establishment of England Athletics and its key appointments.
· England Athletics will be built around a regional structure with the great majority of its staff located in the nine English regions, managed by a compact HQ.
· The local priorities in context with the national strategy and the budgets of each regional team, will be guided by a Regional Council of volunteers.
· The chair of each Regional Council will sit on an England Council. Up to two additional members could be added to the England Council to meet identified needs.
· Two members of the England Council will sit on the board of England Athletics alongside two executive directors, four non-executive directors and a Chair.
· The Chair of England Athletics will then connect formally into a new UKA structure, providing bottom to top democratic connection
Q: What will be the role of England Athletics?
A: As laid out in the Foster Report, the new organisation will contribute to the creation of the UK strategy for athletics, and then be charged with managing its delivery in England. It will be responsible for all aspects of athletics delivery in clubs, schools, colleges and universities, below the elite level. It will aim to offer all athletes an identifiable pathway to fulfil their ambitions and potential, through competition opportunities and developmental programmes.
Q: How will England Athletics be managed?
A: The guiding principle is that anything that can be devolved to its nine regions will be. The management team at the centre will be as lean as possible: there will be a Chief Executive supported by a Finance Director and minimal administrative support. Each of the nine regions will have a Regional Manager, reporting directly to the Chief Executive.
The Chief Executive and Finance Director will be part of a board that will also include two members of the England Council and four non-executive directors that meet the required skills and experience profile, of whom two will be appointed through an election process.
The board will be chaired by a Chair, appointed in line with corporate best practice and as recommended by the Combined Code on Corporate Governance. The position will be advertised publicly. A committee comprising senior professionals and volunteers will shortlist, interview and appoint.
Q: How will the new regions be managed?
A: The new regions will be managed be a Regional Manager working closely with the Regional Council. The nine Regional Managers will be given a devolved budget and will work with a small team of staff to deliver the strategy in their region, taking into account local circumstances. The regional priorities will be devised in conjunction with, and then endorsed by, a Regional Council comprising volunteers from all areas of the sport. One of these volunteers will be selected by his/her peers on the Council to act as the Regional Chair.
Q: What rights will the clubs have?
A: The Clubs will form the membership of England Athletics. They will determine the elected members of the Regional Councils and have additional power through the AGM process. The clubs will have the ability to bring motions for debate, examine and then vote on the annual report, budget and the appointment of directors and Chair.
Q: Why won’t the clubs determine all the members of the Regional Council?
A: It is essential that the Regional Councils have a balance of experience including club athletics, coaching, officiating, the counties, competition (track & field, cross-country, road racing), school athletics, higher education athletics, disability athletics, business, commercial, etc. A wholly elected Council cannot ensure this, but it is envisaged that the majority will be elected.
After the initial elections, the skills and experiences of those elected will be reviewed, and additional members selected to achieve the necessary balance. An annual ‘open meeting’ of the Council will also be held to ensure a wider voice can be heard by council members.
Q: How do the Regional Councils connect with each other?
A: The nine Regional Chairs will come together to form an England Council, allowing the exchange of ideas and best practice as well as ensuring that there is appropriate consistency between the regions. Two further volunteers could be co-opted onto the England Council to meet identified needs.
Two members of the England Council will also act as directors on the board of England Athletics, ensuring a strong voice and influence for volunteers in the operation of the new organisation, both at regional and national level. Furthermore, the Chair of England Athletics will then connect formally into a new UKA structure.
Q: What about cross-country and road running?
A: Athletics means all disciplines, not just track and field athletics. The Regional Council will be able to select a defined number of members to balance its membership, and this will ensure the sport is represented in its widest context. Similarly, the England Council also has the power to co-opt up to two additional members to ensure a balanced representation
Q: What about competition?
A: The Foster Report called for reform of the UK competition structure. This was not part of the brief of the England Working Group, but it envisaged that the Territories, all disciplines, and other competition providers will contribute to this ongoing process. In the meantime, current Territorial competition in all disciplines will continue.
Q: What does the creation of England Athletics mean for UK Athletics (UKA)?
A: As laid out by the Foster Report, the future role for UKA should be to devise the national strategy for athletics in the UK as well to manage directly certain functions (including elite programmes and anti-doping). UKA has become involved in direct delivery in some ‘developmental’ aspects of athletics in England, and therefore will need to hand these roles over to England Athletics in a managed transition.
The lack of connection between the home country associations and UKA has contributed to a perception that there is insufficient accountability in the sport at UK level. UKA recognises this, and is examining its governance structures with the aim of forging bottom to top connection. The Chair of England Athletics will form the link between the England and UK levels in the sport.
Q: Is this officially the end of the AAA of England (AAAoE)?
A: It has been agreed that many of the current functions of AAAoE will pass to England Athletics after the Commonwealth Games in April 2006. However, the future of the organisation remains in the hands of its members: the clubs in England. They may choose to wind up the company after the handover, but this will be their decision.
In the 18 months leading up to the handover, AAAoE’s role will continue as now. This is particularly important with a Commonwealth Games approaching, and the aim will be to minimise disruption for athletes and their support team at this important time.
The heritage of the AAAoE is an important aspect of the sport’s history. It is premature to assume the AAA Championships will not have a role in the sport’s competition structure. Equally importantly, the experience and knowledge of individuals in AAAoE and the Territories must be retained as far as possible in the new England Athletics.
Q: And the three Territories?
A: There will be a similar handover of the territorial governance functions to England Athletics in April 2006 from the North of England AA, South of England AA and Midland Counties AA. However, the three territories will still provide competition opportunities in all disciplines.
The existing membership schemes in the North and Midlands will continue in their current form throughout 2005, with an England-wide membership scheme not expected until the launch of England Athletics in April 2006 at the earliest.
Q: What about the Celtic home countries?
A: In parallel with the England Athletics, the Celtic home country associations, England Athletics and UKA are part of another Foster project working group reviewing their future working relationships to ensure consistency and clarity of purpose.
Q: How will appointments be made to England Athletics?
Peter Radcliffe, and the Board of England Athletics 2005, will oversee the appointments of the Chief Executive and Finance Director, with the process beginning early in 2005. Members of the Foster Project Board and England Working Group will be engaged in the process to ensure the right person emerges in both of these vital appointments.
The Chief Executive (again with appropriate advice and support from the Foster Project Board and England Working Group) will then begin the process of recruiting nine Regional Managers and determining the office locations and staffing budgets for each region in conjunction with the Finance Director.
Finally, the Regional Managers will assemble their regional teams. Existing staff from the three territories, the AAA of England and UKA will have the first opportunity to demonstrate their suitability. Any further vacancies will be filled in an open recruitment process.
Q: What about the other administrators?
A: The main Project Board will continue to be chaired by Sir Andrew Foster. It is scheduled to dissolve in Spring 2006. George Bunner (Chair of AAAoE) will continue to lead AAAoE through the transition process and will be involved in all the key decisions as will David Moorcroft (Chief Executive of UKA). This will help to ensure a smooth transition from the existing to the new structure in April 2006. Jack Buckner will manage the project implementation over this time period.
Q: When do I get my say?
A: During late January and February 2005 members of the project team will be hosting meetings in all nine regions to discuss these proposals and the next steps in implementing England Athletics. Dates and locations will be published in early January.
There is much still to decide. England Athletics should be dynamic and entrepreneurial especially at the regional level. We’ll need your help to make it happen!
Assuming that we get your support, we intend to have England Athletics fully operational by April 2006. This will require comprehensive planning and regular communication throughout the transition process over the next 18 months.
Signed :-
Sir Andrew Foster
David Moorcroft
George Bunner
Peter Radcliffe
Jack Buckner
Entered by: Mark Hirst

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