Coe’s British Olympic Association Already Looks Very Different to How Moynihan’s Did

 

Having run the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games ever, leading the British Olympic Association (BOA) through the next four-year Olympic cycle through to Rio 2016 is not an overly daunting task for Sebastian Coe.

And even if it is, he is certainly not showing.

Just over five months after the driving force of London 2012 was elected BOA chairman, Coe yesterday held his first official media briefing.

Sebastian Coe and his management team have unveiled the BOA’s strategic plan for the next four years through to the conclusion of Rio 2016.

Between now and then, the 56-year-old double Olympic 1500 meters champion has been busy overseeing the construction the BOA’s strategic plan for the 2013-2016 quad through to Rio.

The media briefing at the BOA’s impressive headquarters at Charlotte Street in London was to unveil that plan and give an update on priorities and milestones for the organization.

Looking outrageously relaxed as my colleagues in the media and I arrived, Coe greeted us all and took to the top table with the new-look, six member BOA management team.

The six being chief financial officer Peter Yates, director of Games services Mark England, director of communications Darryl Seibel, director of sport programs and athlete services Kate O’Sullivan, director of Olympic relations Jan Paterson and commercial director Sophie Mason.

Coe has clearly grown to trust his new management team since taking over as BOA chairman, which is one of the reasons he has been in no hurry at all to appoint a new chief executive to replace Andy Hunt.

Hunt left in February this year, which was no real surprise after Coe became chairman. Hunt was took center stage under former chairman Colin Moynihan, most notably when he  appointed himself Team GB Chef de Mission at London 2012 despite little experience of such a position, never even having been to a Summer Games before.

Coe and Moynihan’s previously warm relationship became strained during the build-up to the Olympics – which was most publicly illustrated in the lead up to the Games when the BOA began a high-profile spat with London 2012 about the sharing of surplus from the Olympics and Paralympics – and it was always expected that Coe did not want Moynihan’s man as his chief executive for the next four years.

So Hunt went – the recruitment for a new chief executive now just beginning – and Coe and his management team appear to have done an impressive job of creating a plan for the next four year without him.

The plan contains nothing particularly revolutionary, mostly just a common-sense approach to cutting the costs after the large financial deficit created at the BOA in the lead up to London 2012.

Since Coe has taken over, the number of staff at the BOA has fallen from 96 at London 2012 to 45 at present.

“We need to take fragility out of the balance sheet,” Coe explained, in what was seemingly a subtle dig as his predecessor Moynihan. “That is crucial because it is important for an organization to have that certainty of revenue and cost under control which was maybe lacking before. It is the same with every host National Olympic Committee following the conclusion of a home Olympic Games where you must scale up in the lead-up to the Games and scale down afterwards.”

Coe also revealed that the BOA is looking to generate £42 million ($66 million/€50 million) in the next four-year Olympic cycle through to Rio 2016, the same amount they raised in the four-year cycle to London 2012.

They have made a promising start – unveiling Nissan as the first post-London 2012 Tier One sponsor of Team GB and ParalympicsGB at the briefing.

Raising the £42 million ($66 million/€50 million) would make the balance sheet look very healthy because the BOA are unlikely to spend nearly as much in the next four years to Rio under Coe as they did in the four to London under Moynihan.

Such an occurrence over the next four years would keep Coe’s stock in the Olympic world sky-high, which would be particularly beneficial for him given that he will most likely serve just one four-year term as BOA chairman.

Waiting in store for him is seemingly the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Presidency – a position that would make him the most powerful man in the sport.

The role is currently occupied by Lamine Diack, who is due to step down in 2015.

Coe is current IAAF vice-president and favorite to succeed Diack – with his only realistic contender being Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka,  also a vice-president of the organization.

For now, though that is a while off, and for now Coe has his thoughts firmly focused on the BOA.

Other than ensuring the financial stability of the organization – his chief tasks include delivering successful of teams for Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 and helping Glasgow win a bid race for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games against their two formidable contenders of Buenos Aires in Argentina and Medellín in Columbia.

Ultimately the former athlete will be judged on results in all of these fields.

But on first appearances, Coe’s new-look BOA appears to have plenty of potential.
Contact the writer of this story at tom.degun@insidethegames.biz.  To follow him on Twitter click here. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.
 

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