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The UK Athletics boss admits financial worries keep him up at night

Jack Buckner admits UK athletics’ poor finances kept him awake.

The 2021-22 accounts, published in December, showed savings fell from £2.2m to £430,000 in one year, with the governing body taking a £1.8m loss.

Former British Swimming chief executive Buckner, now UKA chief executive and chairman Ian Beattie, is working to improve the situation. However, this worried Buckner.

He said, “Well, it’s hard, I’ll be very honest with you. Very difficult. You know, it gives me sleepless nights.

“The state of the system is definitely giving me sleepless nights. Because finance has been emerging in recent years, and still is. It will be very difficult financially.

“The challenges in our finances are very relevant to other businesses and very real. These are tied around events. So the financial challenge around marketing and sponsorships. It’s a very real challenge.

“Performance funding is protected by UK Sport. So you have a fund and you can allocate it according to performance criteria. So, in theory, the funding is protected.

The Diamond League will return to the London Stadium in July for the first time in four years, taking place in Gateshead and Birmingham.

Buckner hopes being in the capital will help UKA’s finances and put athletics back on the map, with plans to make it a major event.

“We are at the London Stadium for the Diamond League and our aim is to make it the best Diamond League in the world,” he said.

“We sold 30,000 tickets for the summer. Last year’s biggest Diamond League sold 25,000 tickets, I want to sit there after selling 40-50,000 tickets and making it the best Diamond League event in the world. We also have a firm date for next year. And then there are the next two years.

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“We want to sell more than that. We want to hit the ground running. This is our big moment.

“We need to monetize the events we do, and right now they don’t. Things like national championships fall a little bit in the middle. Are they big enough to take TV and have stars?

“Or you take a different approach – you have to demote your national championships and put them back in Grangemouth or Sheffield.

“We may have to make some of those calls, but because we’re a little bit stuck in the middle of events like this. They’re not enough to get there, but you still have a lot of costs around them. Event costs are huge.