UK Athletics chief admits concern about finances gives him sleepless nights
Jack Buckner admits UK Athletics’ precarious finances have given him sleepless nights.
The 2021-22 accounts, released in December, revealed the governing body had made a £1.8million loss with savings dropping from £2.2million to £430,000 in a year.
Former British Swimming chief executive Buckner, now UKA’s chief executive officer, and chairman Ian Beattie are tasked with improving the situation. However, it has left Buckner worried.
He said: “Well, it is tough, I’ll be really honest with you. It is really tough. You know, it gives me sleepless nights.
“The state of the organisation definitely gives me sleepless nights. Because the finances has been an unfolding thing over the last few years and they still are. It is going to be really tough financially.
“The challenges we have in our finances are more linked to the rest of the business and those are very real. Those are linked around events. So the financial challenge we have got is around commerciality and sponsorship etc etc. That is a very real challenge.
“The performance funding is protected by UK Sport. So you have got a fund and you can allocate within that according to performance criteria. So in theory that funding is protected.”
The Diamond League will return to the London Stadium for the first time in four years in July having been held in Gateshead and Birmingham.
Buckner hopes being in the capital will help UKA’s finances and also put athletics back on the map, with the plan to make it a showpiece event.
“We are in the London Stadium for the Diamond League and our aim is to make that the best Diamond League in the world,” he said.
“We’ve sold 30,000 tickets for the summer. The biggest Diamond League last year sold 25,000 tickets, I want to sit there having sold 40-50,000 tickets and make it the best Diamond League event in the world. We’ve got the date confirmed for next year as well. So we’ve got the next two years.
“We want to sell way more than that. We want the place rammed to the rafters and create that. That’s our big moment.
“The events we do we have got to make them profitable and currently they are not. Things like the national championships do slightly fall in-between. Are they big enough to get TV and have the stars?
“Or do you take a different approach – you might have to downgrade your national championships and put them back in Grangemouth or Sheffield.
“We might have to make some of those calls but because we are slightly stuck in-between with events like this. They are not big enough to get up there but you still have a lot of costs around them. The event costs are massive.”