UK Athletics names new CEO in leadership shake-up

14 Feb 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

UK Athletics has announced a leadership shake-up, appointing Joanna Adams as CEO, whilst Chair, Chris Clark, has stepped back from the role.

Adams was most recently CCO at the London Legacy Development Corporation at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. She will take over from UK Athletics Interim CEO Nic Coward, who was appointed to the role last month. Coward will instead take on the role of Interim Chair at the organisation to replace the outgoing Chris Clark.

Coward will stay in the role of Interim Chair until the end of the year, throughout a review process which is currently taking place at the organisation, and, along with Adams, will be tasked with bringing stability to the organisation throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Adams stood down as CEO of England Netball in August after over four years in the role and after almost ten years at the organisation where she also served as Commercial Director. She presided over a successful period for the sport, with growing professionalisation, the addition of major sponsors and the establishment of the Vitality Netball Superleague franchise. 

In more recent years, she oversaw the delivery of a World Cup in Liverpool and presided over the England Roses team which won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, after a dramatic victory over Australia in the final. The success saw England Netball crowned Sport Organisation of the Year at the Sport Industry Awards 2019 (pictured below).

Clark, who will step down as Chair, will continue to advise the UK Athletics board on commercial matters.

He said: “The role of Chair for UKA clearly now requires a huge time commitment during this crucial period. My other commitments to regulated businesses and public sector organisations have significantly increased since commencing the role and I have to concede that I cannot give it the time commitment it deserves right now.

“However I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with UK Athletics on the commercial strategy and with Joanna’s appointment and her track record of success in not only sports governance but also commercial, marketing and competition structures, means we have excellent leadership to take the sport on in a positive future direction.

“Nic has already made a very positive impact and retaining his expertise for this transition period was an important consideration when the Board debated the changes we needed to make. The focus now has to be the future and how we will apply the learnings and best practice from the ongoing reviews and ensure the sport has a hugely successful future.”