Athletics: BBC set to seal pounds 3m takeover

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The Independent Online
BRITISH ATHLETICS is due to confirm today a new four-year television deal with the BBC worth in excess of three million pounds a year.

The corporation made a substantially increased offer to the sport last week following Channel 4's success in taking away their rights to screen domestic cricket.

Final negotiations were set in motion by Channel 4's announcement late on Friday that it would not see out the exclusive four-year contract to cover domestic athletic events which it signed in 1996.

Channel 4, which agreed the deal with the now defunct British Athletic Federation, had not signed a contract with the sport's interim governing body, British Athletics 98.

As it sets about re-organising itself in the wake of last year's financial collapse, the domestic sport - spearheaded by chief executive Dave Moorcroft - can now look forward to greater prosperity after a period of penury and tortured self-examination.

A crucial part of the negotiations for Moorcroft has been the retention of a magazine element to the coverage, something Channel 4 have successfully introduced.

Meanwhile, Steve Ovett has emerged as the surprise figure among five nominees for presidency of the new governing body being set up to take over the running of British athletics.

The sport's 1600 affiliated clubs have until November 15 to vote for either Ovett, or one of four alternatives - David Hemery, the 1968 Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Tom McNab, the coach and author, Sir Eddie Kulukundis, oil millionaire and theatre impresario, and Dr Mike Turner, treasurer at the British Amateur Athletic Board between 1985 and 1989.