Track and field figures urge UK Sport to approach Sir Brendan Foster to take over UK Athletics

Influential figures in track and field have called on UK Sport to intervene in the ongoing ‘crisis’ around UK Athletics by making an approach to Sir Brendan Foster.

Disgruntlement towards the sport’s under-fire governing body is rising at a time when they need to replace chairman Nic Coward, who is due to leave next month.

While sources close to Foster, 73, have made clear he has done no canvassing for the position, it is nonetheless the case that he is being championed by significant parties who point to his credibility within athletics, commercial success and broadcasting contacts.

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Track and field figures have pushed for Sir Brendan Foster (centre) to take over UK Athletics

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UK Athletics are reeling from an underwhelming Olympics, at which the team failed to win a gold medal for the first time since 1996, and in turn that followed the loss of their lucrative BBC broadcasting deal. The governing body were the subject of a critical independent review last year and are mired in financial challenges.

Michael Heath MBE, the former chair of the British Athletics League and previously a board member of England Athletics, pushed for Foster to take over in a letter to UK Sport chairwoman Dame Katherine Grainger which copied in the Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston.

UK Sport distributed £23million of lottery money to UKA in the Tokyo Olympic cycle and will have a say in recruiting the new chairperson.

Current chairman Nic Coward (above) is due to step down from his role at the body next month

The letter, seen by Sportsmail, read: ‘The role of chair is being publicly advertised. There is a strong feeling in the domestic sport that either UK Sport should make a direct approach to Sir Brendan Foster to take on the role with a clear remit to make whatever changes to board and executive he feels necessary. 

‘Sir Brendan’s knowledge of the sport, his contacts for example with the BBC, his commercial expertise and the respect in which he is held all make him the perfect candidate. All aspects of the impending Great North Run (founded by Foster in 1981) demonstrate why he is the right person at this time.

‘My soundings amongst the leaders of the clubs say he would be welcomed by athletes coaches and officials.

Foster’s credibility within athletics, commercial success and contacts are being championed

‘Athletics is on the verge of a crisis that could lead to its permanent decline. Without strong respected leadership this decline will inevitably continue.’

Meanwhile, Dina Asher-Smith intends to compete at each of the triple-header of World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 2022. 

The 200 metres world champion said: ‘I think you will see a few athletes do that as it is a home Commonwealths (in Birmingham) and obviously I have a world title to retain and many European titles to retain. That is the plan for me.’

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