PFA to tackle black manager anomaly
Chris Hughton (L) is one of only two black managers in professional football in England
LONDON, England – The PFA (Professional Football Association) are investigating the possibility of forcing clubs to put black candidates on shortlists for managerial vacancies.
Only two of the 92 English league teams have black managers, Chris Powell at Charlton and Birmingham’s Chris Hughton, and discussions with the men who brought about the implementation of the ‘Rooney Rule’ in the United States, credited with getting the NFL to a position where two black coaches faced each other in last season’s Super Bowl, are at an early stage.
Further talks are planned, and PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor feels it is an avenue that has to be explored, saying: “In football terms, we are the most cosmopolitan country in the world. There is no distinction between colour, creed, nationality or background.”
He added: “However, the PFA spends a lot of money training players for the future and understandably, one of the most obvious areas of interest is coaching and management. For some reason the number of black people who actually get a chance in this area is very small.”
The same situation used to exist in the NFL until the Rooney Rule was drafted by civil rights lawyer Cyrus Mehri. Implemented in 2003, it was forced to overcome some initial teething problems. However, once the NFL showed they were prepared to take tough action against clubs who did not follow the law, teams fell into line.
And Taylor feels a similar situation in England would be a win-win outcome given the increasing clamour for success, saying: “All we are asking for is an interview. But the more times people attend interviews, the greater the likelihood of them eventually getting a job.
“This has to be a good thing because it broadens panel of potential managers and coaches clubs are selecting from and opens up the possibility of greater experience. That should be what every club is looking for anyway.”
Invited by Taylor, Mehri met members of the PFA, League Managers’ Association, the Football Association, Football League and Premier League at Wembley on Wednesday, ahead of England’s victory over Wales.
“We are committed to this issue and Cyrus’ experiences can offer us an insight and some solutions that can begin to address a concern that will not go away on its own,” said Taylor.
“Twenty years ago, Cyrille Regis and Luther Blissett did not try to carve out a career in management because they did not feel they would get a proper chance. In 2011, it is in no-one’s interests for potential managers to be put off for similar reasons. We will not be taking this off our agenda.”