National governing body begins search for a successor after head of organisation leaves to set up own business

UK Athletics is looking for a new chief executive after it was announced that Niels de Vos, long-time CEO of the governing body, will leave at the end of this month.

De Vos took the job as UKA’s CEO in 2007 – shortly after Ed Warner was named chairman of the governing body – as the duo jointly replaced the previous CEO, Dave Moorcroft.

Dutch by descent – with a surname that translates as ‘fox’ – De Vos was born in Walsall, was a club-level middle-distance runner in his youth and before joining UKA he had worked as commercial director at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and then as chief executive of Sale Sharks rugby club.

De Vos and Warner worked in tandem for the best part of a decade, overseeing the British team’s preparations for London 2012, in addition to taking over the ambitious job of organising British televised events from Fast Track.

Warner left UKA in 2017 and was replaced by Richard Bowker and the new chairman said this week: “Niels has been a fantastic servant to not only UKA, but the sport of athletics as a whole. The sport has grown and been hugely successful under his leadership.”

In addition to De Vos’s period in charge being dominated by London 2012, he oversaw the staging of the IAAF World Championships and IPC World Para Championships in London in 2017, the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham this year and events like the 2008 World Cross Country Championships, not to mention the creation of the Anniversary Games and this year’s Athletics World Cup.

Long-term deals with Nike and BBC were secured, although he has come under fire lately after struggling to fill the London Stadium and Alexander Stadium for recent major events. Also, the size of his salary has drawn criticism, while he demonstrated a ruthless streak not long after his appointment by overseeing a large cull of his staff.

Bowker continued: “Today’s announcement is the culmination of a number of months dialogue about his ambitions to set up his own business. He leaves with our enormous thanks and we wish him well for the future.

“UK Athletics will retain his services in a limited capacity in order that a number of important issues where he has led discussions and negotiations are brought to a conclusion.

“We look to the future with confidence that UK Athletics as an organisation and the sport of athletics in the UK are both in great shape and will begin the search for a new chief executive shortly.”

UKA confirm they are now looking for a replacement with Nigel Holl, UKA’s strategy and partnerships director, taking the role of interim chief executive.