The London Marathon is in talks to help save British athletics amid reports that the governing body could fail this year, with event director Hugh Brasher emphasizing: ‘We have a responsibility to of sports”.
Other potential lenders, including organizers of the Great North Run, are also believed to be open to assisting UKA, which lost £1.8m last year. His remaining reserves of £400,000 have since declined further. The governing body was forced to lay off 10 staff last month due to its financial crisis, while dealing with safeguards cases cost it another six-figure sum.
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“This is a great sport,” Brasher said. “We had 8,000 kids at the Mini Marathon on Saturday. We have a responsibility to the sport and we are absolutely talking to UK Athletics about how we can help.”
The London Marathon already funds training camps for British athletes in Kenya, South Africa and the Pyrenees, as well as a number of other projects. However Brasher did not commit when asked whether the scale of the backing could include the Diamond League takeover at the London Stadium in July, which is likely to cost UKA up to £500,000 despite the sale of 35,000 tickets. “I’m not going to delve into what it might be or what it might not be,” he said. “It’s a very early stage of conversations. This is not just us. There are others who watch it.”
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Another source of potential assistance is UK Sport’s main events panel, who are in discussions with UKA to help bridge the Diamond League deficit. However, reports that UK Sport could offer an emergency bailout for UKA are being described as off the mark, with informed sources saying the money simply doesn’t exist three years into a four-year Olympic cycle.
Brasher has also held open talks with Eilish McColgan, after the Scottish star revealed a row with organizers after she withdrew from this year’s race through injury. Brasher clarified that she wanted McColgan, who has twice been forced to miss the marathon, to return next year.
“You know we’d love to welcome you here in 2024 or whenever the injury clears up,” he said. “He will be a force in marathons and we have put together the best fields. We had a good chat and hope to welcome you back in 2024, 2025 or 2026.”
Brasher explained that the origins of the row were due to a new World Athletics rule that allowed an athlete to have two logos on their vest, as well as the London Marathon’s longstanding agreement with Lucozade. “We allow the two logos as long as they are not competing sponsors,” she said. “Integrity is really important to us and very important to you. Can misunderstandings occur? Yes they can. But she explained where it comes from and understands where we come from ”.