Stephen Maguire was abruptly sacked as UK Athletics technical director on Tuesday after a row about budgets for the Paris Olympics.
While the cash-strapped organisation provided no detail about who initiated his shock departure in a blunt 35-word statement, Mail Sport understands he was dismissed from his post.
The decision, which falls just nine months out from the Olympics and was later criticised as ‘incredibly short-sighted’ by Dina Asher-Smith, came to head in a meeting between Maguire and UKA CEO Jack Buckner at Loughborough on Tuesday morning.
That conversation is believed to have nosedived amid ongoing tensions about the dire finances at UKA, with their 2021-22 accounts showing a £1.8million loss. One prominent source claims the financial situation is so perilous there will no backing for British athletes at certain overseas events and hinted that the pot for the remainder of this Olympic cycle is effectively empty. UKA declined to comment.
Remarkably, the call to remove Maguire was made barely a couple of months after Maguire guided Britain to a record-equalling 10 medals at this summer’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
UK Athletics technical director Stephen Maguire has left nine months before the Olympics
Men’s 1,500m champion Josh Kerr delivered one of 10 medals won by Britain at the World Championships this summer, which equalled their best tally since 1993
Maguire’s departure comes just nine months before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
Asher-Smith was clearly angry about the situation, writing on social media: ‘Would love to see a full explanation of the reasoning behind the disappointing decision for the athletes and our performances.
‘Stephen has been phenomenal, so dedicated and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to be successful in the sport of track and field.
‘Having had a long history in the sport made him excellent at his job, which resulted in the team’s overwhelming success in Budapest and put us on an amazing path to Paris.
‘Such a snap decision as athletes begin to prepare for an Olympic Games cannot have been done with any consideration for the performance needs of the athletes.
‘As an athlete, it would be nice to have this explained to us because from the outside looking in it seems like an incredibly short-sighted decision made without considering that we are in an Olympic year.’
UKA have said they will appoint an interim head coach in ‘due course’, with Scott Simpson, their head of field and combined events and coach of pole vaulter Holly Bradshaw, among the contenders to be Maguire’s long-term replacement.
Athletes were informed of Maguire’s departure via email on Tuesday lunch time but were only given the same brief information as the public.
Maguire previously worked at UKA as head of sprints and relays but he left in 2020 after Christian Malcolm was surprisingly chosen ahead of him as head coach.
When former sprinter Malcolm was sacked last summer after less than two years in his role, Maguire reluctantly agreed to leave Sport Ireland and took the top job in September, with UKA hailing him as ‘the best person to lead the (world class) programme towards Paris and Los Angeles’.
He faced criticism earlier this year after overseeing a selection policy that saw Britain take their smallest squad to a World Championships in 18 years, leaving a number of athletes who had qualified at home.
However, the team won 10 medals, including golds from Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the heptathlon and Josh Kerr in the 1500m, which equalled their previous best tally from 1993.
UKA said in a statement: ‘UK Athletics have announced that Stephen Maguire will leave his role as technical director with immediate effect. An interim head coach will be announced in due course, until then no further comment will be made.’