Inside Track: edition 4

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of ‘Inside Track’ – the blog from the England Athletics Board.

Each month we’ll bring you news concerning athletics and running as well as offer our fresh take on the latest developments affecting the sport. We’ll also be using this blog as an opportunity to explain how we are working with our key stakeholders and update you on those aspects of the sport which have been considered by the Board at its last meeting.

Welcome to our new Board Observers

At our most recent Board meeting in March, we welcomed our two new Board observers, David Franks and Abdul Buhari.

General discussion

The day started with a valuable pre-Board discussion around proposals on England Athletics’ new marketing and communications strategy from our joint Board and Executive Task and Finish Group. This was considered alongside the organisation’s new strategic plan.

The formal meeting followed this discussion and always begins with a statement of the activities of the Chair over the period since the last Board meeting with members given the opportunity to ask questions.

It was then good to hear from our CEO Chris Jones that the England Athletics Selection Policy and Para-Athletics Selection Policy for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are now in the public domain along with the dates for the follow-on webinars aimed at athletes and coaches. This is a key part of our ongoing commitment to communicate openly, clearly and concisely in the lead up to the Games next year.

The Board also welcomed the news that there was a plan to hold a 12-month programme of “let’s talk about mental health” to be delivered for staff and the sport as we emerge from lockdown.

Financial position

The March meeting is always concerned with financial plans for the following year. An initial discussion on this topic had taken place at the January meeting and, therefore, there were only minor considerations at this time. This is taken in line with the targets set for the year. Following initial approval of these targets (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) the Board had had to revisit these. The review was thus of these secondary targets.

The work to provide engaging content, regular communication, virtual competition, and comprehensive guidance for a phased return to competition has resulted in over 141,000 athletes registering by the end of February. In addition, 1,600 clubs and member bodies have affiliated resulting in the achievement of the 75% income scenario for the full year.

The transition of courses online has helped to recover an income stream but more importantly enables a flow of new coaches, leaders, and officials into the sport and this is something which will continue.

England Athletics is grateful to the sport for its confidence and continued engagement with the organisation over the past year. This positive income generation was partly offset by loss of some commercial income due to one of our major commercial funders succumbing to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is still hoped that some funding may be rescued but at this time this is not being built into the plan for 2021/22. Adjustments on expenditure made by the England Athletics executive place the company in a strong position for next year and what might transpire moving forward. The Board are always grateful to its audit and assurance committee for the detailed work undertaken on its behalf.

Our thanks to Ellie and David

The meeting ended with us giving our thanks to Ellie Brown and David Lodwick as our National Council representatives on the Board. There is no doubt that their combined leadership of the National Council and their contribution to the Board have been invaluable. Although a hard act to follow we look forward to welcoming our new representatives at our next meeting.

Questions and concerns

We want ‘Inside Track’ to be used by you, the members, as an opportunity to contact us, whether you’re an athlete, runner, coach, leader, official, volunteer, competition provider, facility provider, parent, carer, or just someone who cares passionately about athletics and running. If you want to give a special ‘shout out’ to someone within the sport whose gone that extra mile or have a question or concern which you’d like to put to the England Athletics Board you can do so via: insidetrack@englandathletics.org. So, bookmark this page, share it with a friend, colleague or fellow member and please get in touch.

 Your England Athletics Board