UKA leadership

Moorcroft’s successor is from world of business
By Tom Knight
Last Updated: 11:51pm GMT 07/01/2007

The chairman of UK Athletics will be announced tomorrow at the sport’s headquarters in Birmingham.

The announcement brings to an end a four month-long search for the two people who will effectively replace David Moorcroft, who quit after nine years as chief executive at the end of August.

The appointment of a chairman, who has been asked to commit 20 days a year to the sport, will be closely followed by the naming of a full-time chief executive from a short list that includes Niels de Vos, the chief executive of Sale Sharks.

Many hoped that with a designated role as front man and cheerleader for the premier Olympic sport in the build-up to London 2012, the new chairman would be a distinguished former athlete. Among the names being suggested were Lord Sebastian Coe, Brendan Foster and Steve Cram, but none expressed interest.

To the surprise of many, it is understood that the man who will be unveiled tomorrow is a businessman rather than a former athlete.

Meanwhile, Christine Ohuruogu’s future will be decided in a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in London on Thursday.

The Commonwealth 400 metres champion is appealing against a one-year ban.

Ohuruogu, 22, one of the Britain’s biggest medal hopes for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, is still struggling to come to terms with being out for 12 months and the possibility of also being banned under British rules from representing her country at future Olympics. She has threatened to quit if the ban is not reduced. The decision of the CAS will be final.

Businessman Ed Warner has been named as the inaugural chairman of UK Athletics.

Warner, 43, has a background working as a funds manager in the City and is a contributor on Radio 4’s business news.

His first task in the part-time non-executive chairman’s role will be to find a successor to outgoing UKA chief executive Dave Moorcroft.

UKA turned to Warner after big names like Lord Coe, Brendan Foster, Steve Cram and Dave Bedford ruled themselves out of the key positions.

“I am hugely excited by the challenge of leading the sport of athletics through to 2012 and beyond,” said Warner.

"I am also very aware of the need to continue the modernisation of the sport started by Dave Moorcroft.

“He has done a tremendous job in bringing together our sport and that’s something I’m keen to build on.”

Warner does not have a background in elite athletics but is a keen amateur runner as a member of Fittleworth Flyers running club in Sussex.

He added: "None of my achievements in our sport allows me to stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain’s leading athletes.

“But I believe that they give me some insight into their motivations and the commitment necessary for them to achieve excellence in their chosen fields.”

Moorcroft’s decision to quit as chief executive last August after nine years in charge prompted UK Athletics into a major restructure.

It is the first time the organisation has appointed a chairman, a part-time post that was advertised as involving just 20 days a year but in reality is likely to involve greater commitment.

Warner’s new role at UKA will be equivalent to the chairman of a public company.

His responsibilities have been outlined as leading the UKA board, working closely with the chief executive and developing the organisation’s “vision”.

“Ed was by far and away the outstanding candidate for the new post of Chairman of UKA,” said UKA non-executive director John Taylor.

“He is a leader with a track record of success. He makes things happen, he is a winner in business and will help provide real leadership to the sport.”

Warner will take up his post with immediate effect while an announcement on Moorcroft’s successor is likely to be made before the end of the month.

“We are at an advanced stage of the recruitment process for a new chief executive for UKA,” Warner revealed.

“We have had some outstanding applicants for the post and I am confident that we will be in a position to announce Dave’s successor in the coming weeks.”