Kick It Out chief says tougher action needed on improving representation
CLUBS must face “penalties” for failing to comply with the rules on boosting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation in football, anti-discrimination chief Lord Herman Ouseley has said.
The Kick It Out chairman was responding to Monday’s news that the English Football League was extending a pilot version of American football’s Rooney Rule to all 72 clubs, meaning they will now have to ensure a suitably qualified BAME candidate is interviewed for all coaching positions within academies.
Clubs will also commit to the principle of speaking to at least one BAME candidate for senior first-team roles, including the top job, whenever they run a full process.
The EFL piloted the scheme over the last year, though the results were far from impressive.
Ten clubs signed up but only four changed manager in the period — Birmingham (twice), Chesterfield, Coventry (twice) and Wolves (three times) — and the rule was only applied twice.
Wolves applied it once, in appointing Paul Lambert, and Coventry applied it when Russell Slade took the managerial reins.
Chesterfield said no available BAME coaches applied for their vacancy, but on another five the rule wasn’t adhered to.
Birmingham, who failed to interview a BAME candidate when either Gianfranco Zola or Harry Redknapp was appointed, said they had “abided by the agreement” as the scheme allowed clubs to appoint “specific individuals” without a full recruitment process during the season.
Wolves said it failed when appointing Walter Zenga because the process “came during exceptional circumstances and timescale during a transition of ownership” and they had explained this to the EFL. But they didn’t say why the rule hadn’t been applied when Nuno Espirito Santo was brought in.
Coventry said they had “interviewed and seriously considered” a BAME candidate after Tony Mowbray’s departure in 2016 but that when Slade left the next year Mark Robins was “chosen from the beginning.”
Ouseley praised the EFL for getting the pilot “off the ground” and pointed out that at the academy level the scheme was paying off, with 11 BAME coaches getting jobs “which is better than what has gone before.”
But he warned: “One of the clear lessons to learn from the pilot is that there needs to be greater investment in supporting more BAME coaches to be appropriately qualified, supported through the processes, and when qualified, to be considered for appointment through fair, competitive and equitable selection processes.”
He said it would be a “big job” to get all 72 clubs to adopt open recruitment policies so that the rule’s application could be monitored.
“For maximum effectiveness, that would have to be backed up by penalties and sanctions for non-compliance because, as the pilot shows, clubs have got away with doing little or nothing to achieve fair outcomes.
“That position is untenable and unacceptable in 2017.”
And he turned the spotlight on other off-field roles where there are more BAME people employed.
“Off the field of play, the representation of BAME people is shameful, with some of the more menial tasks and relatively low-paid positions likely to be occupied disproportionately by BAME people.
“The football authorities, including the FA, the Premier League, the EFL and their clubs mostly oversee regimes that are largely white-run and white-male dominated, with BAME faces almost non-existent in middle, senior and executive decision-making positions.”
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey, a middle-aged white man, said the pilot had been “useful” in terms of learning more about “positive action measures” and had proven they could be integrated into “football’s unique recruitment model.”
He said the challenge now was to widen the trial and provide more support for BAME candidates with their qualifications, CV-writing and interview skills.