Ethnic minority coaches still not getting jobs in English football says report16 November 2016

Twoyearsaftertheycalledforatargetofoneinfivecoachestocomefromanethnicminoritybackground bytheendofthedecade,anewreportfromtheSportsPeoplesThinkTank,theFarenetworkandLoughboroughUniversityrevealslittleprogresstowardsthatgoal.

The report published today shows that the numbers of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals in coaching roles in English football have remained the same since 2014 with only 4.1% of almost 500 positions held by minorities leading to the “depressing reality that if you aspire to be a manager or coach from those communities you are at a disadvantage”.

Progress against recommendations
The report also monitors progress against a series of recommendations made in 2014 to improve representation levels. The findings reveal slow progress and procedural shortcomings in training, recruitment and support.

Out of six key recommendations the only significant change made to address the under-representation of minorities in coaching and management after the English Football League introduced new recruitment practices – similar to the Rooney Rule in the US – for coaching positions in academies and a voluntary recruitment code in first-team football.

Dismantling institutional discrimination
Dr. Steven Bradbury of Loughborough University who conducted the research said, “Football doesn’t exist in some magical vacuum; to address institutional discrimination we need positive action measures.

“We see the beginning of those kinds of measures being implemented at the moment. Delivering those measures properly, effectively and transparently are the kinds of things that will dismantle those institutional barriers.”

The report sets out the numbers of BAME coaches in employment in six categories of coaching positions. The 2016 numbers show that 25% of all BAME coaches in senior coaching positions are employed at just two English Football League (EFL) clubs, Queens Park Rangers and Brighton Hove Albion.

The European context
The research is the third of five annual reviews to be produced until 2018, with the first report in 2014 an overview of the situation in France, England and the Netherlands.

Jacco van Sterkenberg of Erasmus University who was a leader of the original research project, The Glass Ceiling in European Football commented, “According to coaches that I have interviewed racial/ ethnic prejudices seem to be alive still and this also applies to boardrooms within football clubs across Europe. Black players are considered good athletes but are not associated with managerial qualities such as leadership.”

John Olivieira, who has been working with players in the Netherlands and is a member of the board of the Fare network said, “We see the same situation that is reflected within this research in many other countries in western Europe, ethnic minorities are almost absent as coaches. In the UK there is at least a debate, bit this is an issue that football must come to terms with across the big European footballing countries. Diversity in coaching and leadership is a strength, not a weakness. Our work in this area will continue.”

Failure of new code
The report says that Championship club Wolves, one of the clubs that volunteered to implement the new EFL code, failed to follow the process appointing Walter Zenga as manager.

The recommendations of the report include:

  • Call for a target of 20% of black coaches to be recruited by 2020
  • Recommend better co-ordination between the FA and the Leagues
  • Make the case for an independent body to be appointed to monitor the work of the football authorities
  • Targets to be set by the FA on the number of coaches to be qualified
  • Coaches to be offered support in addressing closed networks