2023 Consultation findings

England Athletics is today releasing the findings of its 2023 consultation, along with progress updates on a number of key areas for both concern and potential development, raised by stakeholders. The consultation was launched in April and was open to everyone, with the aim of canvassing opinions and allowing those within athletics to help to shape the future of the sport.

In total, almost 500 responses were received, with respondents representing every region and a broad spectrum of roles within the sport.

In summary

  • You told us that you had concerns about the amount of funding and investment in the sport
  • You told us that you were concerned about the number of available, accessible, quality facilities
  • You told us that the level of drop-off among young athletes was a worry
  • You told us that the lack of coaches and officials was an issue
  • You told us that the sport needs to capitalise on the running ‘boom’ and increase grassroots participation
  • You told us that there is a need to promote the sport more among young people
  • You told us that more events were needed, and a change in event structure should be considered in order to improve the athlete experience
Download full detailed report (PDF 1MB)

Of the importance of this feedback, England Athletics CEO, Chris Jones, said:

“We are determined to both safeguard and progress our sport, ensuring that athletics and running in England is in the strongest position possible, both now and looking ahead to the future. In doing this, it is vital that we are continuously engaged with our stakeholders - the people who live and breathe athletics - about their challenges, their concerns and the opportunities within the sport."

“Feedback from our 2023 consultation reinforces the challenges that we are committed to addressing within the sport, and provides us with a significant amount of information which will help us to prioritise resource moving forward, in order to continue to address those challenges.”

What we have already done

  • Investment in facilities has continued to accelerate even during challenging times for track owners/operators, with a total of 15 facilities (two new tracks and 13 resurfaced tracks) benefiting from a total investment of £9.3m last year, while around £1m was also invested in cages (13 new cages and 30 modifications)
  • We sought the views of all within the sport on the possibility of changing the age group categories for young athletes, with proposals to amend the current categories to contribute to addressing the increasing drop-out rates and decreasing participation levels among young athletes approved by UK Athletics in January
  • In addition to this a Task Force has been commissioned to develop further plans for increasing participation Track and Field Athletics
  • In October 2023, England Athletics assumed responsibility for the licensing of coaches and officials (at levels 1-3). While we recognise that the recruitment and development of people within these roles is absolutely crucial to the long-term sustainability of our sport, the 3,300 officials and 19,500 coaches now licensed with us represent a committed, dedicated and active workforce, which we will now seek to grow
  • Since April 2013, via the delivery of 400 courses, we have trained just under 3,600 coaches and leaders; 2,900 of whom are new to the pathway
  • We have recruited for and formed an Athlete Panel, which will provide advice and feedback to the organisation on a variety of issues centred around athlete experience, to ensure that decisions are taken with the voice of the athlete in mind
  • We have continued to invest in our partnership with Roster Athletics, which provides affiliated organisations with a user-friendly, digital system which aids the smooth organisation of, and communication around, events. 2023 saw a year-on-year increase of 190% in terms of organisations using the system, while the number of competitions utilising the platform’s functions rose by 147% on 2022
  • We have introduced initiatives designed to improve athlete experience at our events. From enhanced audio systems, to better utilisation of exhibition and free spaces, to improved channels of pre-event communication with athletes and officials, we are trialling and implementing changes which we believe will raise the standard of athlete experience across events

Further details of the organisation’s progress and priorities in a number of areas can be found in our two-year strategy update, which we published in December.

What we are planning to do

  • We will enhance our membership benefits and expand our offering, to increase the number of athletes and runners allowing us to re-invest more into key areas
  • For areas of the country where there are no facilities with 30 minutes drivetime (rural) and 20 minutes drivetime (urban) we will support clubs in lobbying for the installation of New:Gen athletics facilities
  • We are continuing to put substantial investment into areas identified by stakeholders, including Coaches and Officials Education and Development (£1.1m); Clubs and Facilities (£1.15m); and Competitions (£1.3m)
  • From April 1, we will subsidise the cost of officials renewing their licenses, ensuring that barriers to retention of officials are removed, and that we keep experienced and committed officials in the sport
  • We are underway with the process of reviewing and updating course content for officials and coaches, with the creation of a new Health and Safety course our first priority in this area
  • We have listened to the feedback of course attendees to develop our offering, and will continue to do so, to ensure that all decisions we make about the education and development of coaches and officials are driven by data and evidence, provided to us by those who are going through the development process
  • We will continue to gather the feedback of athletes and officials at all of our events, ensuring that points made relating to athlete experience are taken on board, acted upon and used to build an enhanced, positive and enjoyable experience for all those who take part in our events

Continuing to canvas opinions

England Athletics is committed to advancing our sport in conjunction with our stakeholders. As such, we will be continuing to listen, take action and update you on progress in tackling the key challenges and capitalising on opportunities.

We will be available at National Championships and other events throughout the year, and our Regional Councillors, Club Support Managers, Membership Engagement Team and other members of staff can be contacted on any of the above – or wider – issues.

A summary and message from our CEO Chris Jones