Athletics Athletics London Marathon Great Run and UK Athletics set up
Athletics Athletics London Marathon Great Run and UK Athletics set up

Athletics: Athletics-London Marathon, Great Run and UK Athletics set up joint venture

LONDON (Reuters) – UK Athletics (UKA) has set up a joint venture with the organisers of the London Marathon and the Great North Run which will look to transform the future and growth of athletics in the country, the governing body said on Monday.

The company, named Athletic Ventures, will organise the 2026 European Athletics Championships in Birmingham and will be involved in the bidding process to bring the World Athletics Championships to Britain in 2029.

UKA has been in financial difficulties for years and its CEO Jack Buckner said on Monday that, though the partner organisations would not put funds into UKA directly, the new collaboration would enable the governing body to benefit from the financial expertise and experience of the organisations behind some of the most highly successful mass participation events in world sport.

“This is a groundbreaking model for the development of athletics and for major sports events in the UK,” Buckner told reporters.

“We believe our new partnership will transform the future of athletics in this country. We are not in this for a short-term fix – this is a strategic move.”

The new organisation will be charged with finding commercial partners, offering opportunities from grassroots activities to national events and the UK athletics teams at major championships.

“The partnership is driven not only by a belief in the sport of athletics, but also the belief that there is real commercial opportunity,” said Paul Foster, CEO of the Great Run Company, which organises the Great North Run – the world’s biggest half-marathon.

“We’re bringing together the best event organisers in our sport to create a new template for international events. We’re combining world class creative, broadcast and event operations with focused commercial and entrepreneurial vision to develop a brighter future for athletics.

“For the first time, major events will be underwritten by commercial organisations, not the public sector.”

Six days ahead of this year’s London Marathon, its event director Hugh Brasher said the new venture was already in conversations with globally renowned UK companies “that see the opportunity that we now have together”.

“The entrepreneurial spirit that is at the core of this new partnership has the potential to truly deliver for athletics from the playground to the podium,” he said.

EXCITING TIME

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe hailed the move and said it was coming at a “very exciting time” for the sport. “It is innovation and creative partnerships like this that will keep pushing our sport forward and make it an attractive proposition for fans and commercial partners alike,” Coe said.

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

UK Sport’s Head of Major Events Esther Britten said the move was a great example of steps that can be taken to support the sustainable long-term health of governing bodies in the country, saying: “We know that building the right partnerships will help our sector’s resilience in event delivery, and we look forward to seeing how this evolves over the coming years.”

(This story has been corrected to say that partner organisations would not put funds into UKA directly in paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips/Aadi Nair; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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