Developing a New Strategy for England Athletics in 2021

England Athletics are in the process of reviewing their strategy with the aim of launching a new plan to start in 2021.

Below outlines our current strategy, challenges and future priorities; to help shape the future strategy and direction of our sport.

Current Strategy

The current strategy Athletics For Everyone: Forever has been in place since 2017. Successes we have seen during the past three years, include:

  • 7,000 more licensed leaders, 2,000 more licensed coaches and 300 more licensed officials.
  • The number of affiliated athletes and runners has increased by 20,000 to 181,000, which includes 7,500 more women.
  • 100 more affiliated clubs.
  • The number of licensed road races has increased by 1,000.
  • RunTogether has engaged nearly 120,000 people.


Despite some positive impact there are some significant challenges still facing the sport. We think the main ones are as follows:

  • The number of coaches and officials is growing but NOT quickly enough – significant capacity issues still exist, limiting the effectiveness of clubs and competitions. There is also concern that not enough coaches are being given the opportunity to qualify above Athletics Coach level.
  • Running is in boom, the number of registered runners, running clubs and road races continues to grow, but Track and Field participation and performance levels in some events are in decline.
  • We know competition is highly valued by young athletes, but currently not meeting the needs of all athletes and is a contributing factor to significant drop-out from teenage athletes.
  • Securing much needed investment for facility improvements for clubs is a significant challenge.
  • There is a concern that we try and do ‘too much’ and could prioritise more effectively, to ensure we are maximizing our value and impact.
  • Our dependency on Sport England has reduced significantly. However, diversification of our income streams to re-invest back into the sport is still a challenge.

Emerging Future Priorities

Following an initial period of consultation, including a review of feedback received from over 3,000 athletes, 300 clubs, 1,000 coaches, officials, volunteers, regional councillors and internal members of staff, some of the emerging future priorities are as follows:

  • Developing a common agenda

The future purpose, vision and mission of England Athletics is likely to focus on:

  • Helping to raise standards across all aspects of the sport.
  • Improving experiences of everyone involved in the sport.
  • Supporting and developing people to achieve their full potential.
  • Providing a first-class service that is valued by the sport.
  • We need to be realistic

The current vision and mission are potentially too far-reaching and could push the organisation into focusing on too many things and trying to be all things to all people. A future strategy is likely to be more focused on the areas of greatest impact.

  • Quality over quantity

There is a strong feeling that the focus should be on sustaining participation and providing a better service / improving experience and standards to existing participants across the sport. Feedback suggests that there is currently too much emphasis on ‘growth’ in the current vision and mission. Phrases like ‘most popular’, ‘grow opportunities’, ‘everyone’, ‘expand’ need to be revisited.

  • Clubs, Workforce, Competition

The evidence would suggest that the key areas of focus for England Athletics should be clubs, workforce and competition:

  • Clubs: providing support, resources, systems, advice and guidance to help clubs to thrive.
  • Workforce: providing support and development opportunities for coaches, officials and volunteers.
  • Competition: providing support for the sport to develop competition formats to help sustain participation and promoting innovation across the sport will be important.
  • Sustainable, respected and trusted governing body working openly

Being a respected and trusted governing body is seen as a fundamental part of a successful strategy. Therefore, it is important that activity drives respect and trust to ensure that what we do is valued.