UK Athletics is facing a devastating £2m blow to its finances after confirming that the Anniversary Games in July, its flagship event and biggest money-spinner of the year, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a sober message Jo Coates, the UKA chief executive, admitted the decision to call off the event at the London Stadium would have a “significant financial impact on UKA and the wider sport”.
“The revenue we generate from events – through ticketing, broadcast and sponsorship helps administer the sport and provide the essential governance services that we, as an NGB, oversee,” she said.
UKA insiders accept that while the numbers are still being crunched, the losses would be “well into seven figures”. Another informed source suggested it would be somewhere in the region of £2m.
This latest blow will also intensify pressure on the organisation, which has seen its reserves drop from £4.5m in 2016 to £2.8m in its latest accounts and is also yet to renew its £3m-a-year TV deal with the BBC that ends this summer. To make matters worse, as first revealed in the Guardian, the BBC is willing to pay only a fraction of that sum to renew its contract.
UKA has confirmed that all those who have bought tickets will get a refund, however, given the extraordinary circumstances and high volumes placed on banks, the refund process may take longer than usual.
The Diamond League events in Rabat and Zurich have also been cancelled. The league said it was still hoping to start a shortened season in Monaco on 14 August, with various meetings in September and October, including in Gateshead on 12 September.