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Adams steps in as UK Athletics CEO, Clark resigns as chair

Joanna Adams looks on during the Sports Industry Breakfast Club at the BT Centre (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images for Sport Industry Group)

UK Athletics has named Joanna Adams as its new chief executive, while Chris Clark has confirmed that he will be stepping down from his role as chair of the national governing body.

Adams (pictured) served as chief executive of England Netball from 2015 to 2019 and is currently chief commercial officer at the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). She previously worked as a commercial director for the Football Conference and as a director at Notts County Football Club.

Adams’ time at England Netball proved successful, with the national team winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Adams also helped professionalise the sport through major sponsorship deals and media-rights agreements, and oversaw the expansion of the Superleague club competition.

Clark, meanwhile, will step down from his role as chair when Adams joins UK Athletics. Clark will become an advisor to the governing body’s board and will oversee the development of a commercial plan for the sport in the country.

Nic Coward, UK Athletics’ interim chief executive, will assume the role of chair until the end of the year to provide the body with stability during the summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Coward was named interim chief executive last month, becoming the second person appointed to the role since Niels de Vos stepped down in September 2018. Nigel Holl originally took up the reins on a temporary basis before leaving last November to become executive performance director at British Curling.

Zara Hyde Peters had been due to take up the position of permanent chief executive on December 1 last year but this fell through amid concerns raised over a safeguarding issue regarding her husband.

UK Athletics has also announced that the investigation stage of an independent review into its handling of issues surrounding the Nike Oregon Project is now at an end. UK Athletics commissioned the review in November and a final report is set to be delivered to its board in the coming months.

It comes following an announcement on Tuesday by UK Sport that it has commissioned an independent first stage review into UK Athletics to define the key components of a ‘fit for the future’ organisation for athletics in the UK and recommend areas of change.

The unprecedented review will identify actions for the governing body to help the sport move forward, as well as defining any areas for further review. The initial discovery phase will consider the strategy, leadership, governance, operation, culture and connectivity of UK Athletics within the context of the sport as a whole.

The work will sit alongside the independent reviews into safeguarding and the issues surrounding the aforementioned Nike Oregon Project.

Also this week, it was reported by The Guardian that public-service broadcaster the BBC is only keen to extend its rights deal with UK Athletics on significantly reduced terms.

The BBC signed a six-year extension to its rights deal in July 2013. The previous BBC contract, also a six-year deal, was due to expire in 2014 but was extended through to the end of 2020.

The BBC is thought to pay between £3m (€3.6m/$3.9m) and £4m per year, plus production costs, but the broadcaster is reportedly only willing to pay a fraction of the current fee in any new deal.

The deal ensures events such as the Anniversary Games and the British Championships are shown on free-to-air television in the UK. The agreement granted the BBC rights to all UKA events, including two Diamond League meetings a season.