UK Athletics accused of attempting to push through ‘fundamental’ changes to the sport in SECRET which would see clubs stripped of voting rights
- UK Athletics have been plotting to strip the voting power of clubs at its EGM
- Clubs fear they will lose ‘influence on decisions that directly affect them’
- UKA saw backlash for releasing the plan last minute, defending it as ‘appropriate’
UK Athletics and the body responsible for dispersing lottery funding, UK Sport, have been accused of attempting to orchestrate ‘fundamental’ changes to the sport in ‘secret’.
In a punchy open letter, a group of influential figures within athletics, led by former vice-chair of England Athletics Mike Heath and Newham & Essex Beagles chair Tony Shiret, have hit out at a proposed restructure of the UKA members’ council.
It is understood that plans under discussion would see the voting power of clubs removed at the UKA EGM next Friday – a prospect that has drawn sharp criticism from some corners of the sport. The plans were outlined publicly for the first time in a statement by UKA chair Ian Beattie on Friday.
UK Athletics are hoping to force through changes to who can vote at their EGM on Friday
In an open response signed by the ‘Athletics Research Group’, Heath and Shiret wrote: ‘Following discussion between us and the UKA Chair, Ian Beattie, and following letters to Mr Beattie and UK Sport’s Chair, UKA has published details of the proposals it plans to make.
‘While this is a welcome step forward, we believe it was unlikely to have happened without our intervention.
‘Readers can see for themselves that the proposals will reduce their clubs’ influence on decisions that directly affect them and reduce any meaningful oversight over UKA following a period when its executive management and board have clearly failed to improve UKA performance.
‘Under the proposed changes the three current club representatives will have their votes removed and their status reduced to non-voting members. The Home Country Athletics Federations (HCAFs) of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have half of the voting rights instead of one third previously.
UK Athletics Chair Ian Beattie agreed to released the plans only seven days before a decision
‘We believe that these changes have been proposed because UK Sport has written to the Chair of UKA requiring changes to the UKA constitution (its Articles) by the end of the month. We also believe that these changes have been linked to funding decisions.
‘Currently UKA has a new Chair, Ian Beattie, an acting CEO and a new senior independent Director. So, it appears that the UK Sport is trying to force through changes with a new UKA management team.
‘Additionally, there has been no public information until January 21, seven days before the decision, on these proceedings. Fundamental issues concerning the governance of the sport are being decided effectively in secret.’
The letter added: ‘Clubs may be surprised that control of UKA is effectively being handed to the HCAFs. After a consultation in 2021 the English clubs voted decisively against this option. So, the current proposals appear to be the opposite of what the sport more widely voted for.’
In flagging up that the prime role of UKA is the performance end of the sport, rather than grassroots, Beattie said on Friday: ‘The clubs are obviously a really important part of the athletics landscape in the UK, but as stated above the primary responsibility for clubs lies with the Home Countries rather than UKA, so a non-voting member role for the club representatives seemed a more appropriate way forward.’