Ridgeon to rejoin Coe as CEO of IAAF
Jon Ridgeon, executive chairman of CSM Active, a division of the UK-based sports agency CSM Sport & Entertainment, has been appointed as the new chief executive of the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body.
Great Britain’s Ridgeon, aged 51, a former British record holder and silver medallist in the 110m hurdles in the 1987 World Championships in Rome, will rejoin Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF and executive chairman of CSM, in his new role. Earlier he worked closely with UK Athletics as managing director of Fast Track, the UK-based agency that became part of CSM.
The IAAF said: “Ridgeon was… responsible for transforming British Athletics in 1998 to the most commercially successful athletics governing body in the world, which included brokering multi-million pound sponsorship and broadcast deals. He was also one of the architects of the IAAF Diamond League Series.”
Ridgeon was also previously a director of European Championship Management, organiser of this summer’s inaugural combined multi-sports European Championships in Glasgow and Berlin, and a non-executive director of the British Triathlon Federation.Ridgeon replaces France’s Olivier Gers, who resigned in March Olivier after just 17 months as chief executive of the IAAF. In a surprisingly forthright statement on Gers’ resignation in March, the IAAF quoted him as saying: “Whilst I am sorry to be leaving, the pre-existing commercial framework makes it difficult for me to apply my talents and fully leverage the assets of the IAAF in the way I would like. Given my stance, I have resigned so the IAAF can pursue a different commercial strategy for the sport.”
The explanation appeared to be a reference to the IAAF’s long-term deal with Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant heavily involved in sports marketing, which ties the governing body’s hands commercially until 2029.
In 2014, the IAAF raised eyebrows by once again signing off on a 10-year extension of the commercial partnership, in which Dentsu operates as the worldwide marketing and licensing partner for the top-tier IAAF World Athletics Series and as the distributor of media rights on behalf of the federation outside Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.
Coe said of Ridgeon’s appointment: “I, and a number of the IAAF Council Members, have known Jon for many years and admired his passion, energy and innovation in sport, particularly athletics. His experience in putting together great teams, running large successful companies, delivering top class events and bringing strong commercial partners into sport makes him the right choice for this role.
“I am delighted he has accepted the offer to join the organisation as we embark on further developing and growing the sport across the globe. The next three years, with two World Championships and an Olympic Games, will be an exciting and challenging time for our sport and we are confident that Jon has the right experience and energy to maximise the opportunities we have.”
Ridgeon said: “Having spent my life in sport, this is a dream job for me and I am absolutely thrilled. Athletics is my passion and I have devoted the vast majority of the last 20 years to creating successful commercial partnerships, developing new events that drive participation at both elite and grassroots levels, as well as leading organisations that deliver significant projects across the globe. I am delighted to be joining world athletics at this exciting time and look forward to working with Seb, a strong team and all our member federations across the globe.”
Ridgeon will take up his new role in March next year.