UK’s Diamond League events in jeopardy if no rights deal agreed

UK Athletics has warned that it may not be able to stage any Diamond League meetings next year unless it agrees a new domestic media-rights deal.

Chief executive Joanna Coates told the Guardian: “I would like to think we wouldn’t lose the Diamond League in this country but we can’t take the losses we have taken at some of our major events.

“I think we can fill the London Stadium, I think we can stretch out ticket prices. But broadcast revenue is a substantial amount of the income too. We are absolutely looking at our event portfolio and we have got to look at whether they financially make sense.”

The UK is scheduled to host events in London and Gateshead in 2021.

The Guardian reports that renewal talks with the incumbent, public-service broadcaster the BBC, have reached an impasse. The BBC’s current six-season deal, which grants it rights to all British Athletics events, including two Diamond League meetings a season, ends this year.

UKA is also reported to be holding tentative talks with other parties, such as pay-television broadcaster Sky and commercial free-to-air broadcaster ITV.

The curtailed 2020 season caused by the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of the Gateshead and London Diamond League events this season.

The BBC last month acquired live rights to non-UK Diamond League events this season in a last-minute deal with the IMG agency. The BBC will continue to offer its one-hour highlights programme after each meeting.

The Discovery owned pan-European broadcaster Eurosport held the rights in the UK from 2015 to 2019, excluding the UK stops.