Chair Ian Beattie and interim chief executive Mark Munro set out their stall following the sudden departure of Jo Coates at the national governing body

Improved support for athletes and coaches. Domestic televised events which are the envy of the world and ideally shown on BBC. Continuing synergy between UKA and the home country federations.

Those are the main goals for UK Athletics’ new chair Ian Beattie and interim chief executive Mark Munro as they endeavour to create a winter of content following a turbulent period at the governing body.

“We also,” adds Beattie, “want to be just a really good organisation, which underpins everything we do. That means being strong on issues like safeguarding and with clean sport.”

Beattie and Munro spent just over half an hour outlining their battle plan to athletics journalists during a conference call on Monday (Nov 8). They have taken up their posts during a tumultuous period that culminated with the resignation last month of chief executive Jo Coates and performance director Sara Symington but the disarray stems back further to include the short-lived, unimpressive impact made by chairs Richard Bowker and Chris Clark, plus a catalogue of embarrassing episodes such as the failure to secure the sport’s future on BBC.

Beattie and Munro have cut their teeth at Scottish Athletics and now they plan to apply their methods to UKA. They mean business too.

“Let’s get this organisation going forward,” said Munro, who has become temporary CEO for six months after his previous role as development director. “I agree with the priorities (better support for athletes and coaches etc) and so let’s go and go and deliver them.

“I fully intend not just to sit on my hands, but to get cracking and move things on quickly or as quickly as we can.”

Mark Munro (Bobby Gavin)

There was urgency in Munro’s voice as he continued: “If you look at next year, it’s a hectic year. There are four major championships, so that has to be an absolute priority. And we also have to have an eye on Paris 2024, which is not far away.”

Not surprisingly Beattie was quizzed about Coates’ departure and the recent problems but he would not be drawn too much, insisting that he wanted to look forward and not backwards. However he diplomatically offered: “I contributed to the Dame Sue Street Report. So I knew what quite a number of the issues were. I had my eyes open about that.

“I think there has been progress in some areas, which has been really encouraging. The home country relationships are much stronger now and that is a real positive.

“So I think there’s been some positives, but it was equally clear to me that there have been lots of criticisms and I was keen when I came in to address that and to be an organisation whereby everyone in the sport feels part of it and a pride – and that’s the organisation I’m keen to lead going forward.”

The governing body is currently searching for a technical director to replace the performance director role with the successful candidate working with head coach Christian Malcolm. UKA is also effectively minus a development director due to Munro’s role changing. But progress is being made and in addition to the recently-released coaching strategy, a similar plan for officials is due to be announced this month.

They are also keen to get the BBC relationship back on track, as Munro explained: “I think we’ve all probably grown up watching athletics on the BBC. We’ve had a great partnership for a long time with the BBC. But we’ll have to have those conversations over the coming weeks and months to see where we get.”

Beattie and Munro would also like to get major events back into the London Stadium, realistically in 2023 and 2024. But more than anything they want to create an atmosphere of positivity.

“We’re very keen to build a culture where the athletes feel we are there to support them,” said Munro.

Ian Beattie (red vest) (Bobby Gavin)

What would be the measure of short-term success? “First of all, I think we’d see short-term success of getting a more positive feel around the sport – and that’s maybe a bit intangible,” said Beattie. “And that’s not talking about medals or anything else. But I think we need to start seeing the sport feel we’re heading in the right direction and I don’t think we need to wait a year for that to happen. I’d like this to happen more quickly.”

Beattie added: “If there’s anything I want to be able to achieve in the next six months then it’s to create a far more transparent organisation in terms of decision making and how we communicate.”

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