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New figures show lack of black coaches across football

PICTURED: SPTT board member, Michael Johnson

SPORTS PEOPLE, campaigners, lawyers and academics came together yesterday (Nov 30) to renew their call for English football to adopt a mandatory version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

The call was made at the launch of a report into the numbers of ethnic minority coaches in football organised by the Sports People’s Think Tank (SPTT), in association with the FARE network and Loughborough University.

The report into ethnic minorities and coaching in elite level football in England written by Dr Steven Bradbury underlines the continued under-representation of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) coaches in the professional game.

Key findings include:

- 22 out of 482 senior coaching positions at professional clubs are held by coaches from BAME backgrounds: 4.6% of all positions of this kind

- 10 out of 248 senior coaching positions at first team level at professional clubs (4%) are held by BAME coaches

- 9 out of 22 BAME coaches in senior coaching positions at professional clubs (41%) are employed at just four clubs: Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Reading, and Queens Park Rangers

There are currently just four black managers across 92 professional clubs in England while more than 25% of players are from BAME backgrounds.

One of the leading experts behind the development and implementation of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, Professor Jeremi Duru, shared his thoughts on how English football can adopt a mandatory version of the recruitment measure and chart out how he believes it would diversify coaching and management in the sport.

SPTT board member, Michael Johnson, underlined the position of the think tank and the hundreds of sports people that are behind the call for the rule at the report launch, which was hosted by broadcaster, Jeanette Kwakye.

Michael Johnson, former footballer and SPTT board member, said: “The under-representation of BAME coaches is a problem that the game has been talking about for some time now. However the actions that have followed haven’t made the impact needed. We need a game-changing solution and for the SPTT and the sports people involved in our work that is a mandatory version of the Rooney Rule.

“It is no longer good enough for the football authorities to say they are committed to addressing this ongoing problem without disclosing how they will do this and sharing the results. This report clearly shows that what has been in place to this moment has not worked.”


Jeremi Duru, a leading lawyer behind the NFL’s Rooney Rule, said: "The Rooney Rule has definitely helped to diversify the ranks of head coaches and general managers in the NFL, but it wasn't always clear that it would. Early in the rule's implementation, when no penalty was attached, most clubs clearly did not take the rule seriously.

"When the league attached a monetary penalty for failure to comply, things changed quickly. That's when we saw the number of legitimate interviews of minority candidates increasing, and diversity in hiring followed. For the Rooney Rule concept to be effective in English football, it must have teeth."

Dr Steven Bradbury, Lecturer in the Sociology of Sport, Loughborough University, added: "The findings draw attention to the continued under-representation of BAME coaches in the professional game, and suggest there has been little change in this respect over the last three years.

"Recent interventions designed to redress this imbalance seem limited in their resource, scope and focus, and are likely to have only a minimal impact, if at all, in increasing the numbers of BAME coaches at professional clubs over time.

“The games key stakeholders should develop a much more unified and much less fragmented approach to this issue than is presently the case. This should include the implementation of positive action measures such as a rigorous Rooney Rule style code of coach recruitment, which has been proven to be an effective mechanism to establish more equitable recruitment practices and to increase the diversity of coaches in US sports.

"Without positive actions of this kind, claims as to the inclusivity of the sport, will, quite simply, remain hollow and redundant.”

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