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Athletics to merge in Australia

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The Australian Sports Commission (ASC), Athletics Australia (AA) and Little Athletics Australia (LAA) recently announced that they have commenced a review into a potential merger of AA and LAA.

Athletics Australia is the National Sporting Organisation recognised by the ASC for the sport of athletics in Australia. Little Athletics Australia is the national community organisation responsible for athletics programs for Australian children and youth between five and 17 years old.

Little Athletics is one of the best-known junior sports brands in Australia, with a participation base of over 100,000.  It is a self-funding organisation and receives no direct Commonwealth Government financial assistance.  AA and LAA have had in place a joint venture since 2011 to progress initiatives for the common benefit of the sport, recognising the large overlap in their markets.

A merger would fully unify the governance and administration of athletics in Australia, making its governance structure consistent with other major Australian sports.

As LAA is currently ineligible for Commonwealth Government funding, it would qualify athletics for eligibility for additional annual participation funding from the ASC.

While athletics currently ranks 4th amongst Australian sports in annual ASC Australia’s Winning Edge high performance funding ($6.57 million in 2013-14), it ranks only 23rd in ASC participation funding ($0.3 million in 2013-14).

The ASC would support a merger with a one-off investment of $2 million in recognition of the integration costs that would be incurred and opportunities for new investment that may be opened up for the sport through a combined entity.

This is in addition to the Australia’s Winning Edge investment commitments announced two weeks ago.The ASC, AA and LAA have established a working party to evaluate a potential merger.

This review will consider, amongst other things, the benefits and costs of a merger compared to other potential future governance structures for Australian athletics, including the status quo, taking into account the changing marketplace in Australian sport.

By undertaking this review process, AA and LAA are not committing to a merger and any future changes recommended by the working party will be subject to ratification by both organisations’ member associations.

The review process will take approximately six weeks and an announcement on the conclusions of this review will be made by 30 June this year.

As the Australian Government’s peak sports agency, the ASC has publicly stated its desire to improve governance in sports and it will work collaboratively with LAA and AA in this process.

From the AIS website: http://www.ausport.gov.au

 

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