Athletics: Upheaval continues as Dick resigns: Britain's director of coaching warns of 'Draconian' budget cuts

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The Independent Online
THE political upheaval within British athletics increased yesterday when Frank Dick, national director of coaching since 1979, resigned. With the promotions officer, Andy Norman, under investigation, and the secretary, David Bedford, voted out of office last Saturday, the sport is clearly in the middle of a drama, if not a crisis.

Dick, a 52-year-old Scot, handed in his notice just over a fortnight after he had helped guide Britain to their most successful performance in the European Indoor Championships.

He warned that 'Draconian' cuts being planned for in coaching budgets in the event of a further financial downturn would put continued sporting success at grave risk.

He also expressed dissatisfaction with his pounds 37,000-a-year salary, which compares unfavourably with the pounds 65,000 earned annually by Norman.

The current investigation into Norman's conduct, following allegations that he threatened the writer and coach Cliff Temple, who committed suicide earlier this year, has deeply unsettled the domestic sport.

Until it is settled - and a decision is expected early next month - significant progress on finding new sponsors to replace those who have recently dropped out and on securing a major television contract beyond September of this year, when the one-year agreement with ITV runs out, is unlikely.

It is against this background of financial uncertainty that Peter Radford, the new executive chairman of the BAF, has drawn up plans for a 'worst- case scenario'.

Dick said: 'I have repeatedly warned that the Draconian cutting of the coaching budget will irreparably damage the emerging talent that will ensure future success. If a proper value is not put on coaches we face going backwards. The Germans won't be sleeping for much longer, the Russians are getting stronger and there will be more emerging nations.'

Dick claimed he had spent years seeking a 'job evaluation' and now had to secure a financial future for his family.

There has been friction between Dick and his employers over his freelance activities in recent years. These have included fitness consultancy work with Boris Becker, Katarina Witt, Gerhard Berger and the Scottish rugby union squad.

'Sooner or later you have to stop hitting your head against a brick wall and figure it is time to go,' he said. He added that his offer of resignation had been accepted within two hours. 'I thought maybe someone was trying to tell me something. Perhaps the management board thought it was time for me to leave, too.'

He pledged to spend his six months' notice trying to ensure a smooth transition and helping with one of the busiest seasons ever faced by British athletes at the European Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Cup and European Cup.

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