Ethnic minority coaches face ‘barriers’ in English football, says report

Coaches from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds face "institutionally embedded barriers" in English football, according to a new report from the SPTT and Fare produced with Loughborough University.

The 2017 report says progress since 2014 has been "minimal" for BAME candidates. Just 22 of the 482 senior coaching roles in English football's top four divisions are held by BAME coaches, 4.6% of all positions of this kind.

It recommends a version of the 'Rooney Rule', a National Football League (NFL) policy introduced in 2003, must be introduced to achieve equality.

The research looked at six positions in football, from first-team manager to lead coach of the under-18s.

The numbers are based on the situation at the start of September and show that nine 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.

The vast majority of coaches are former players and BAME players make up nearly a third of all squads, so the report concluded that "institutionally embedded barriers which have restricted opportunities for BAME coaches in the past, remain firmly in place".

The research was published on Thursday 30 November at an event at the Prince Philip House, in London. A panel of experts including Dr. Steven Bradbury of Loughborough University and former player and Sports Peoples Think Tank (SPTT) founder Michael Johnson made the argument for the greater action to deal with the the under-representation of ethnic minorities in coaching and leadership football.

Jeremy Duru, Professor of Sports Law at American University in Washington and leading expert on the implementation of the Rooney Rule in US sport, explained how the rule, which states that at least one ethnic minority candidate must be interviewed for each senior coaching position, has changed the NFL coaching demographics.

The first report published in 2014 included an overview of the situation in France, England and the Netherlands. There has been follow-up research in both England and the Netherlands.

The issue was also the subject of a session at Play The Game 2017 conference in Eindhoven a day earlier, where Fare presented the findings of the updated European research. Steven Bradbury and Jeremy Duru were part of a panel that also integrated Jacco van Sterkenburg, Assistant Professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Inge Claringbould, Associate Professor at Utrecht University.

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