UK Athletics’ controversial chief executive Jo Coates was earning a salary package of £226,143 before she resigned last month, making her one of the highest paid administrators in British Olympic sport, the Guardian can reveal.
The news, which is contained in the UKA accounts for the 2020-21 financial year that will be filed at Companies House later this week, will upset many in the sport given her 19-month reign was characterised by turmoil, infighting and athlete dissatisfaction.
That anger reached a head in September when a group of Britain’s top athletes and coaches told the World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, of their frustration with Coates and her performance director Sara Symington. The pair also had their defenders but a month later both were gone following a stormy UKA board meeting.
UKA’s accounts show that Coates earned a £147,500 basic salary as well as another £78,663 in pension contributions between March 2020 and March 2021. However, the wider picture is far rosier than expected with UKA reporting an overall deficit of just £103,000 for the financial year. That is considerably better than the result of the previous two years, where the combined losses were over £1m.
Those results also came about despite the organisation experiencing a £9m fall in income due to the global pandemic. However, a combination of only staging one event – the British championships in September 2020 – and dramatically reduced costs for training camps due to travel restrictions meant that UKA was able to cut its costs by just over £9m.
The accounts show that UKA was also able to claim around £85,000 from a number of government schemes, including placing a number of staff members on furlough. Had it not been for unrealised foreign exchange losses of £148k – as a result of the sport holding US dollars to cover costs including those associated with international events and overseas training camps – UKA would have made a £45,000 surplus.
When approached for a statement, UK Athletics confirmed that the accounts for the 2020-2021 financial year will be published on UKA.org.uk and at Companies House this week.
UKA’s chief financial officer, Mark Draisey, added: “This is a positive outcome for the sport, with our ambition of a break-even position only impacted by the exchange rates affecting our holding in US dollars.
“In terms of our core activities the organisation is coming out of this challenging period with a much stronger financial position to report.”