Athletics : Trouble for Diamond League in UK as no broadcaster ready for the media deal

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Joanna Coates, chief executive of UK Athletics, has admitted the national governing body for track and field may not be able to stage any top-tier Diamond League meetings next year unless it secures a new broadcasting rights deal.

The British Athletics Championships in Manchester over the weekend was the last event to be aired by UK public broadcaster BBC under its contract with UKA.

The BBC’s most recent six-year deal, valued at around £3 million ($3.9 million) per annum, was up for renewal this summer. 

However, it is thought that the broadcaster no longer considers athletics as great value for money, and talks over a renewal have hit an impasse, meaning next year’s planned Diamond League meetings in London and Gateshead are under threat.

It is reported UKA has held discussions with other networks, including commercial broadcaster ITV and pay-television operator Sky, but has yet to agree a deal for continuing coverage.

Coates said on Saturday: “I would like to think we wouldn’t lose the Diamond League in this country but we can’t take the losses we have taken at some of our major events. I think we can fill the London Stadium, I think we can stretch out ticket prices.

“But broadcast revenue is a substantial amount of the income too. We are absolutely looking at our event portfolio and we have got to look at whether they financially make sense.”

Britain has staged at least one Diamond League meeting every year since the formation of the circuit in 2010, but Coates admitted that may change in 2021 depending on the outcome of a new TV deal.