Athletics: Rebels bank on future vision

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The Independent Online
BRITISH athletics was presented with a wide-ranging 'vision of the future' yesterday as part of a manifesto by key administrators who will seek re-election at next month's annual meeting.

The document proposes major increases in funding for the development of the sport at club level - rising to pounds 1m annually within five years - and recommends the creation of a new UK coaching scheme.

It has been funded personally by the three British Athletic Federation officers recently censured for their part in a no-confidence vote against the Federation's chief executive.

Peter Radford, Dave Bedford and John Lister - respectively vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer - have formed an effective joint ticket with Bob Greenoak, a fellow member of the management board, for what promises to be the most contentious election within the sport for more than 10 years. Copies of their document will be sent to all the 1,800 clubs in Britain.

Having had their wrists slapped by the general council following the management board vote against the chief executive, Malcolm Jones, the trio have regained the initiative by presenting proposals which they believe are long overdue within British athletics.

The reason for the board's dissatisfaction with Jones has never been made public. But although Bedford pointed out that it would not be fair to blame the administrative problems within the BAF since its inception 14 months ago on one man, the proposals outlined yesterday clearly stem from frustration over a lack of initiative from the top.

'This is really all about leadership,' Radford said. 'But rather than raking over the cold coals of the past, we are trying to stoke up the burning fires of the future.'

Lister, who has presided in the last six years over a strengthening and deepening of the sport's finances - total income last year was pounds 7.5m - stressed the need for different elements within the organisation to be 'harnessed'.

In the past, two of those talented but differing elements have been the principal professional officers of the Federation, Frank Dick, the director of coaching, and the promotions officer, Andy Norman.

Any thought that the jobs of either man would be threatened in the foreseeable future was flatly ruled out by all four officers. But they foresee the element of coaching development, which has been in Dick's remit for the past year, being taken over by another full- time professional.

The appointment of a full-time marketing officer for the sport is also envisaged. 'There is an awful lot of money out there to be tapped,' Lister said. 'We could easily bring in an extra pounds 1m annually.'

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