A good discussion on Tuesday, I thought, and a number of points were raised which I believe are worth following up.

    Firstly, it was broadly accepted that UKA’s main focus at the present time – to the exclusion of almost everything else, I believe – is for enough Track & Field athletes to be identified and then developed, who would stand half a chance of getting on to podiums in 2012, and thereby making an average contribution to the “4th Place in the Medals table” which is the Government’s target.

    UKA’s problem is that its annual revenue is far too low to do what the Government, its banker of last resort, asks of it. It stages only one ‘Golden League’ meeting a year and, with the attendance at the AAA Championships being so low – primarily, I believe, because there are not enough GBR runners of sufficient calibre to make the prospect of races from 400m to 5000m exciting enough to pull in enough spectators through the turnstiles – that it doesn’t generate nearly enough profit to cover its expenses.

    And nor would it, in my opinion, even if, with ABAC, ARC or whoever’s prodding, its expenses were, say, halved, over, say, the next 2 years.

    Therefore, UKA can only continue to survive – as it must, because the centre-piece of every IOC Olympic Games since 1896 has been Track & Field – by (a) getting Road, Fell and Trail runners to subsidize the underperforming T&F lot, which (b) reduces central Government’s subsidy enough to satisfy (c) the Treasury and (d) the general, taxpaying public. 

    Secondly, Rule 2(4) of UK’s ‘Rules for Competition’ says

    Athletics is organised within the following disciplines:-

(a)     Track and Field

(b)     Race Walking

(c)     Road Running

(d)     Cross Country including Trail Running

(e)     Fell and Hill Running

but, given the definition that its purpose is to satisfy the Government’s requirement to deliver to the British Olympic Association enough athletes who have met the Olympic qualifying standards once every four years, it has no business regulating “Cross Country including Trail Running, Fell and Hill Running” at all, let alone getting athletes in those disciplines to cough up hundreds of thousands of pounds literally for nothing.

    Thirdly, therefore, athletes who participate wholly or occasionally in events which are organised by any of those four Unions or Associations, should form Clubs, perhaps with titles such as “Anytown Harriers A.C.”, “Valley Spiders Trail Runners A.C.”, etc, etc, which would then be registered with the National Governing Body of that sport only.

    Those athletes would then pay the NGB such affiliation and registration fees as, having regard to its costs and its ambitions, it may consider appropriate and the athletes consider to be good value for money.

    Finally, therefore, I suggest VS should put out feelers, for starters, to the Trail Runners Governing Body and to a small number, say six, local Clubs, to explore the possibility of that NGB giving notice to UKA, prior to becoming an independent, self-regulating body when that notice expires, say, on May 1st 2008.

    And if that receives enough support, then to do the same for Fell and Hill [is there one!!?].

    As for Road Running, it is my opinion that it should also break away, but under the RRC’s umbrella rather than ARC’s, although I do concede that after the exchanges of the last few months, or lack of them, it presents a more complex political problem than does either Trail or Fell.

    On the particular subject of selecting Olympic marathon runners, even if Road Running in general were to break away from UKA, it would be quite possible for the BOA to pick athletes with qualifying times, regardless of whether in UKA’s books they were mwmbers of affiliated Clubs or, for the purpose, ‘unattached‘.