UK Athletics agrees ‘groundbreaking’ joint venture in bid to boost sport

UK Athletics has linked up with the organisers of the London Marathon and the Great North Run in a joint venture to boost the popularity and growth of the sport.

Athletic Ventures – an amalgamation of UKA, The Great Run Company and London Marathon Events – will lead the potential bidding process to host the World Athletics Championships in 2029.

The new company will also look for fresh commercial partners for athletics in the United Kingdom, after UK Athletics posted losses of £3.7million for the last financial year.

It hopes to restore the popularity of British athletics to its 1980s heyday when the likes of Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett, Daley Thompson, Tessa Sanderson and Fatima Whitbread were household names.

UKA chief Jack Buckner said: “This is a groundbreaking model for the development of athletics and for major sports events in the UK and we believe our new partnership will transform the future of athletics in this country.

“Athletics is the most watched sport at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and millions in the UK will be watching the Diamond League at the London Stadium.

“Hundreds of millions across the globe will be following the action from the stadium in Paris, putting our sport and our great athletes – such as Molly Caudery, Hannah Cockroft, Keely Hodgkinson, Matthew Hudson-Smith and Josh Kerr  – front of mind.

“We pledge to build on this huge opportunity to rejuvenate British athletics, working alongside our home country partners, to restore our sport to the popularity of the golden days of the 1980s.”

England Nets and Press Conference – Day Two – Sydney Cricket Ground
Lord Coe has backed the new initiative (Jason O’Brien/PA)

President of World Athletics Lord Coe, who won Olympic 1500m gold for Britain in 1980 and 1984, added: “This is a very exciting time for our sport.

“We are attracting viewers in the hundreds of millions for our World Championships and with the Paris Olympics mere months away the interest in athletics will only increase.

“It is innovation and creative partnerships like this joint venture between The Great Run Company and London Marathon Events – with their impressive track record in road running – combined with UKA’s world-class athletes, that will keep pushing our sport forward and make it an attractive proposition for fans and commercial partners alike.

“We applaud this innovative initiative and eagerly look forward to seeing the promising journey ahead.”