Coe spells out the need for athletics to innovate

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe has touted the prospect of a franchise-based competition and the introduction of pop-up running tracks in football stadiums as part of ongoing efforts to refresh the sport.

Speaking at the Leaders Week conference, Coe (pictured) addressed questions as to how athletics can look forward in the wake of the retirement of megastar Usain Bolt and wider competition in the sports market.

Coe has long talked of the need for athletics to innovate to remain relevant and hinted at the introduction of a franchise-based competition modelled on cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL). He said: “We have to get people to recognise that good racing is not just about how fast can you get from A to B. There's got to be drama, there's got to be things happening.

“I want to look at simple things. Why are we wedded to 400m tracks? Why not simply have a pop-up 300m track in a football stadium? There are lots of things we can do. What about cities, teams or franchises? You see the excitement of the draft with the Indian Premier League auction in cricket. We need some early hour moments of unease about what we are prepared to do. We have to be radical.”

Coe also called for more characters in athletics following Bolt’s departure from the sport, with the Jamaican having long been its figurehead both from a sporting and marketing perspective. Coe said: “They (the athletes) have to have an opinion. They have to dominate a room or a stadium. They've got to be interesting.

“I go to a lot of press conferences post-race and I'm thinking: are you really offering as much as you should, in terms of insight and accessibility? We are in the entertainment business. We should look at this now and recognise that we have to make those changes. Everything is on the table.”