AAA ride in to rescue the BAF

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The financial crisis gripping the British Athletic Federation was eased yesterday when the Amateur Athletic Association of England agreed a two- month assistance package worth pounds 90,000.

The sport's governing body - which reported operating losses of pounds 500,000 last year - was faced with the prospect of laying off its five national coaches and a clutch of development officers because of its parlous financial state.

That would have meant no money for coaches including Bruce Longden, who guided Sally Gunnell's career, and Carl Johnson, early mentor to Jonathan Edwards.

Anticipated National Lottery funding of pounds 1.4m, agreed in April, has still to arrive, and the BAF asked the English AAA for urgent help last week.

Yesterday, despite some reservations following longstanding problems between the two bodies, the AAA announced it would provide pounds 45,000 for each of the next two months.

Further discussions will be held in the meantime in a bid to "formulate substantive agreements for further funding".

David Cropper, the AAA chairman, said in an official statement that the decision to provide the cash package - specifically targeted to fund BAF's regional obligations - had been taken on Saturday by the Association's management committee.

He added: "The Association will also seek ways to ensure the necessary fiscal safeguards are instituted to ensure that both BAF and the AAA of England are able to provide the progressive structure and environment our athletes require and deserve."

Geoff Clarke, the AAA treasurer, was scathing in his criticism of the way the BAF had handled its resources in recent years, accusing them of living beyond their means.

But while the AAA, which kept more than pounds 1m of its reserves when BAF was instituted in 1992, has been able to bank most of its money, the BAF has been committed to funding coaching programmes and travel costs for athletes.

It is understood that the Lottery money will begin to arrive in the next few days, although there will not be a one-off lump sum payment, as BAF had envisaged.