Football managers come and football managers go. Football Chairmen up and down the country will be facing tough decisions over the next few weeks, as they decide whether or not changes to their management structures are necessary, or not. Fevzi Hussein looks at the broader problem of why black managers have been struggling to break into football management and the excellent work being done by the PFA to try to address this.
A quick piece of research demonstrated that black players make up approximately 25% of playing staff and yet at the end of the football season, there were only five black managers out of the 92 Premiership and League clubs (four now as Edgar Davids Barnet FC were relegated). This clearly shows an imbalance or disproportionate representation of black managers ( 5.4%). The most high profile black manager is Chris Hughton, who enjoyed a celebrated career at Spurs. Chris has had a solid first season in charge at Norwich City. Chris Powell, Paul Ince, and Chris Kiwomya make up the other three black managers.
The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) states that 18% of coaches coming through on their coaching courses are black. The most coveted coaching course, the UEFA Pro Licence has 192 accredited persons in England and of these 14 are black.
PFA representatives recently met with League Chairman Greg Clarke, who in turn has agreed to discuss new measures aimed at increasing the number of ethnic minority managers in the 72 league clubs. However, the big sticking point is that, for the plans to become a reality, it will need the support of 50% of the clubs and the PFA’s Paul Davis said that achieving this will be no easy task. The initiative is believed to be similar to the ‘Rooney Rule’ which operates in the America’s NFL. The ‘Rooney Rule’ is about putting in place positive action programmes such as guaranteed interviews for managers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. The ‘Rooney Rule’ has already had the desired impact, with the percentage of black managers in the NFL top jobs rising from 6% to 22%. It also packs a punch, as when the Detroit Lions were found guilty of not entering into the spirit of the agreement they were fined a hefty $200,000. Maybe this is what we need here to finally smash the glass ceiling that prevents black managers from being allowed to compete on an even playing surface.
The PFA is ready to move forward on this issue. As part of their strategic work in this area they have already prepared a 30-strong list of black managers who are deemed ready to go into football management. Names on the list include Earl Barrett, Iffy Onuora, Ugo Ehiogu , Richard Shaw and Eddie Newton. It must be gut wrenching for these guys, who are constantly applying for football management jobs, only to see the usual suspects (who coincidentally are all white and who perennially fail at previous clubs) constantly being given another chance. Ultimately readers will draw their own inference on the back of these facts.
Bring on the ‘Rooney Rule’ I say. Do you think this is political correctness gone mad or do you agree with me that it is about time black managers were given a fair chance in the game we love so much?