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What we can learn from Rooney, Dan Rooney

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Matt Slater | 00:30 UK time, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Perhaps the worst row I've had in my scribbling career came when a press officer at a Premier League club accused me of racism.

We had written a story about whatever issue everybody was talking about that week and buried the launch of an anti-racism rap that had been recorded by a couple of the team's players. To give that story secondary importance was racist, the PR man claimed. I disagreed and tempers flared.

But nobody likes being called a racist. Even racists prefer to be called something else, something less nasty, less ugly. That is why I'm not going to accuse English football of racism - it would be as unreasonable as that press officer's rant.

So I'm just going to note two numbers: 23 and three. The first is the percentage of footballers in the top four divisions who are black, and the second is the number of black managers working at that level. That's three out of 92, basically 3%. Does that sound right to you? Cards on table time: it does not sound right to me.

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BBC Sport's Matt Slater asks MK Dons boss Paul Ince if English football needs affirmative action

It doesn't sound right to many in the black community either, as I discovered at an event at Wembley last month. The 2009 Black List Awards brought together a wide range of people from the football world to recognise African-Caribbean achievement on and off the field.

Videos were played, speeches were given and prizes dished out, the message was clear: English football is a more diverse and multi-cultural place than it once was and is all the better for it.

But there was also an almost tangible feeling that the situation is by no means perfect. The breakthrough African-Caribbean talent has made on the pitch has not been replicated in the dug-out. Why is that?

To be honest, I don't know. I suspect it is a combination of factors, with numerous caveats and lots of exceptions.

I'm also optimistic things are changing for the better, albeit slowly, and in years to come, when the percentages of black footballers and black managers are pretty comparable, articles like this will seem very old-fashioned.

But we're not there yet, are we?

The number of black players in the English game has been rising steadily for 30 years to the extent they now make up almost a quarter of all professional footballers, the group from which almost 100% of managers are recruited (give or take a Jose Mourinho).

All things being equal, the number of black managers should follow a similar upward path, no? Well, yes... and no.

Since Viv Anderson was given his chance by Barnsley in 1993, there have been 30 appointments of black managers in the top four divisions. These have involved 17 different managers.

Three of those 17 are working now: Keith Alexander at Macclesfield, Chris Hughton at Newcastle and Paul Ince at MK Dons. This is an increase on two in each of the last two seasons but a decrease on the six black managers who were in work at any one time between 2001 and 2003.

One, six, two, three... it's hardly an irresistible march towards the Promised Land, is it? Even allowing for the lag between footballers hanging up their boots and moving into management, there is a big discrepancy between the number of potential black managers and the number of actual black managers.

It is a similar story further down the coaching ladder. Statistics from 2007 revealed that less than 1% of senior coaching staff are black. This is despite an increasing number of black players taking coaching badges - the latest figures from the University of Warwick show that 12.5% of players with a "Uefa B" qualification are black.

Theories to explain what is happening - or failing to happen - can be divided into two camps: a lack of opportunity or a lack of role models.

The first is straightforward. Black candidates, for whatever reason, are being overlooked for managerial/coaching positions. Push people to suggest a reason and you will hear anything from old school prejudice to an old boys' network.

Keith AlexanderMacclesfield manager Keith Alexander has carved out a successful career in the Football League's lower reaches

The second is more complex because it works on different levels.

Without role models to look up to fewer black footballers than white footballers consider management. This reinforces expectations, often sub-conscious, of what black and white ex-players will do next.

As a result, black footballers choose other careers. This has a vicious cycle-like logic as it reduces the chance of creating role models for future generations, particularly if those other options - the media, for example - look much rosier.

There is another element to the role-model argument to consider. The fact there are so few black managers means they are subject to a higher degree of scrutiny than their white counterparts.

Ince was not sacked by Blackburn after just 17 games because he was black, no, that would be ridiculous. But the pressure/expectation placed on him, as the first English black manager in the top flight, contributed to his downfall.

But I don't want this to be about individuals, because I know for every Ince I suggest somebody will shoot back with a John Barnes and this is about more than a few big names, just as the hundreds of average black players currently plying their trade have little in common with Batson, Cunningham and Regis.

In the video towards the top of this piece you will see I have posed the question "does English football need a Rooney rule?" This does not, as others have already pointed out, have anything to do with Wayne. This Rooney is Dan, the veteran owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers who in 2003 introduced a remarkably successful piece of legislation into the National Football League rulebook.

It is successful because it does not force the issue. The rule simply says an ethnic minority candidate must be interviewed for every head coach job that comes up. The number of African-Americans in those positions has increased from two to six (having been seven last season), and black head coaches have led two of the last three Super Bowl champions.

For what it's worth, I don't think English football needs to go down this route (with African-Americans making up 13% of the total US population and 65% of the NFL's players, their lack of representation in senior coaching positions was a more glaring inequality than English football's player/manager discrepancy) but we would do well to heed a few lessons.

The first is that access to opportunity is key. By giving minority candidates a shot at a job you give them exposure, hope and practice. If they don't get the first job, they will be better equipped to get the next one.

The second is that legislation like this depends on consent. President Eisenhower was a reluctant social reformer in the US because he did not believe you can "change the hearts of men with laws or decisions". He was probably right but Rooney had little trouble persuading his fellow NFL team owners of the necessity for change. They already knew the numbers didn't look right.

And the third is that once you break through a glass ceiling, people quickly forget it was ever there in the first place.

I have already said I am both troubled by the low number of black managers currently working in football and optimistic this situation will improve. I think I will leave it that and give the last word to England women's team manager Hope Powell.

"I don't know if it's about a lack of opportunities or role models, it's probably both. But as more black players come through, I'm sure things will change. Mainly because I expect people will start to wonder if we're missing a bit of a trick here."

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think this is an interesting article. I do think that it is odd there are less black than there should be but the real reason with this lays with those ex professionals who have not gone into management.

    I would love to ask the following players and others their reasons for not being in management.

    Les Ferdinand (currently coaching at spurs I believe)
    Andy Cole
    Ian Wright

    If they say they haven't been given opportunities then we know something dodgy is going on but if they say that they are not interested or haven't actively pursued this career path than it cannot be racist?

  • Comment number 2.

    There was a very similar blog in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago about this very subject. In fact, this subject probably gets mentioned on the BBC website at least one or twice a season, which is either too much, or not enough depending on your point of view.

    Personally, doesn't matter to me what colour, race, religion, sexual orientation a coach or manager is, just as long as they can do the job.

    There are a lot of facts and figures above, what is the percentage of black ex-players that go on to do their coaching badges?

  • Comment number 3.

    This article in itself is inherently racist in that it differentiates between 'white' and 'black'. I do not think you are racist, any more than most of us are (I think we all are, to varying degrees) - but as such this is equivalent to an internal mental segregation of 'black' people as the very basis of the argument. There should be no mention of colour in my opinion - as soon as it is mentioned a difference is implied, and we should surely be coming together as humans rather than displaying the miniscule differences of background and skin pigment.

    As for the 3% - doesn't sound right, no - but I suspect that many of the 23% in the professional game will be moving into coaching etc. over the years, and the current 3% are likely to have come through a time when racism was far more prevalent and the 'black' players made up roughly 3% of the professional game.

    I'm sure we both agree that it shouldn't matter what colour they are - but we'd both be naive if we said that nobody took any notice of it. I like to think we're improving - could you imagine having 3% 'black' managers in the 80's?

    The NFL rule ia an interesting one - but can you imagine what certain press organisations would make of such 'affirmative action'? Would that not lead to a backlash from those who are, shall we say, less inclined to see that we are all human, regardless of pigmentation or background?

    Here's hoping that in 200 years we really are just a mixed race of coffee coloured people who can't tell one skin pigment from the next. In the meantime, try to remember that distinguishing between the races will only draw attention to those differences that is purely cosmetic, but open to abuse - but don't stop your fight for equality!

  • Comment number 4.

    Of course there is a problem, but i think your statistics may exacerbate it slightly. What percentage of that 23% of black players are non english/british? It's clear that proportionally there are less non english/british managers regardless of race. At a complete guess maybe 8% of black players are from overseas, so it makes the figures slightly less depressing, but not encouraging however. As to what the problem is, I would go along with you largely. I think a successful black manager at Premier League level would have a big impact, in terms of providing a role model. Also are there fewer black coaches in general or is it primarily managerial positions which are the problem? That may give a hint as to the nature of the problem - i.e. lack of interest from black players or boards/chairmen not giving them opportunity. Kick Racism Out of Football and other programmes should commission detailed research into it, otherwise we can't establish the issues and therefore solution.

  • Comment number 5.

    "Ince was not sacked by Blackburn after just 17 games because he was black, no, that would be ridiculous. But the pressure/expectation placed on him, as the first English black manager in the top flight, contributed to his downfall."

    Hmm, not sure that is entirely true. Ince was sacked because the club had taken a dramatic downturn in results and performances, losing to teams we should be beating and he did not have the tactical experience, any plan B when key players became injured and he had lost control of the players. Our last few performances under him were terrible, and characterless. I was in support of his appointment, but also understood why John Williams chose to sack him. I think anyone who followed Mark Hughes would have a huge job on their hand. Of course, had Ince managed beforehand for longer or elsewhere, he may have been more successful, and other young managers seem to be able to pick this up as they go, such as Mark Hughes. You saw the same problem with Man City and Stuart Pearce a few years ago, just a lack of experience.

    In my opinion, Sam Allardyce has been subject to more scrutiny and pressure from the media and fans as Blackburn Rovers manager than Ince was, and he has been more successful, due to having more experience.

    I think the race link is something used by lazy journalists, rather than writing about what his shortcomings were, regardless of skin colour.

    Good luck to Paul, and I've no doubt he will be a top manager when he has learned his trade.

    I think that the FA and the Premier Leaguem clubs need to get more black coaches to start learning the trade, and try to address problems why they don't succeed, the same way that many PL managers have done, such as Allardyce, Pulis, Benitez, Wenger etc.

  • Comment number 6.

    How many first choice goalkeepers in the Premier league are English? How many managers are? Playing with numbers is fine but I agree with post #1, unless you actively canvass former black players and ask why they chose to spurn management, or if they tried but failed what their experiences have been, then the 'racist' word should be kept clear of the discussion.

  • Comment number 7.

    Ugh, what an execrable article.

    Has it ever crossed your mind, Matt, that managers are older than players? Yes, we have an increased black population now, but a young black population. It doesn’t take a Wenger to realise that gradually these players will one day retire and consider management afterwards. Just give it time…

    #2: "Personally, doesn't matter to me what colour, race, religion, sexual orientation a coach or manager is, just as long as they can do the job."

    Totally agree.

  • Comment number 8.

    As for the 3% - doesn't sound right, no - but I suspect that many of the 23% in the professional game will be moving into coaching etc. over the years, and the current 3% are likely to have come through a time when racism was far more prevalent and the 'black' players made up roughly 3% of the professional game.


    They only make up 3-5% of the UK population.

    Many choose the media and creative arts as post football careers but in reality it is probably down to the increase in black players only just starting to filter up into an increase in black coaches being trained which tehn has a delay before they are qualified, gain experience and become managers.

    In a few years the playing and managing percentages will sync up if left to themselves.

    Many black players may simply not wwant to become managers and may want to travel, invest in new enterprises and just enjoy life without having to work.

    This blog seems to be trying to find a problem where non exists and all it does is serve to perpetuate the myth that successful black people get where they are due to help rather than merit thus demeaning their achievements when they should be lauded

  • Comment number 9.

    I think a massive point has been missed here, I understand the links to NFL but as the figures show thats an entirely different ball game, even if the americans think its called football, its really not that much to do with your feet... anyways i digress

    Point i'm trying to make is this, how many top flight managers are actually hired as a result of their work in the English game these days? This has been apparent for a while, although it formerly, it was more Scottish managers whereas now its more European managers, and the trend ic continuing down the leagues with the likes of Martinez to Swansea, Poyet, Di Matteo et al. so its nowhere near as simple as saying "there's too few black managers in the english game" you have to look much further afield if thats the route you want to go down

    Also, to expand on reasoning why not... read post #7,

  • Comment number 10.

    "We had written a story about whatever issue everybody was talking about that week and buried the launch of an anti-racism rap that had been recorded by a couple of the team's players. To give that story secondary importance was racist, the PR man claimed. I disagreed and tempers flared."

    Probably the next most damaging thing to people committing racism is people cheapening the use of the term 'racist' to further their personal agendas. I'm sickened when the term is flung around with abandon, and it shows disrespect to the victims to equate their suffering with innocuous acts such as your own. Shame on the PR junkie. He's part of the problem.

    I think the manager situation isn't getting much better but inevitably will since the ground has been broken; it really is just a matter of acceleration. Some very fine black players are now reaching management age: I'm looking forward to seeing new styles.

  • Comment number 11.

    GreenGunner you've just peddled out the same old myth about the Black community, in particular those of African-Caribbean/Dual heritage being a young community. We had people from this community fight in both World Wars and settle in sizable numbers from the 50's and 60's. There are enough players who have played in the four divisions and in the other leagues to really challenge the conception of them being both a minority and a young community. Many have retired such as the likes of Cyril Regis and found it incrediably hard to find work. It's even harder in non-league and the bottom line is that there needs to representation at the highest levels as well - on boards and directors and with the exception of one or two people I just don't see it.

  • Comment number 12.

    It's interesting that you object to being called a 'racist', when you don't feel that it is a fair comment. On this very site, Oliver Brett accuses England supporters of 'xenophobia' for prefering England cricketers to be English. It does seem rather odd that so few black players become coaches or managers, and I wouldn't be remotely surprised if players were being stereotyped. However, how do you account for the fact that the black population, of the UK, is about 6% of the total population and yet black players represents 24% of professional footballers (in other words they are grossly over represented)? Your statistic implies that Anglo-Saxon players are being discrimintaed against because they are grossly under presented. If you argue that there are more black players because young black players are more motivated, or naturally more athletically gifted, surely this is stereotyping & inherently racist?
    Simplistic, journalsim as usual, from the BBC and also, nor remotely original thinking, as this same subject was discussed in another article only a few weeks ago.
    What I would like to know is what is your attitude towards a sport which keeps Martin Allen on 'gardening leave', for being accused of racism (which, as you've discovered, is a very easy accusation to make) even though the police have cleared him of any wrongdoing, yet has consistently condoned the behaviour of a player (Marlon King) who has a history of violence against women? Would Mick Harford have kept his job, if his insulting remarks, aimed at a female assistant referee ,had been aimed at a black , or homosexual male assistant linesman? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why should it matter how many managers are black and how many are white? Managers are defined by their ability to MANAGE not by the colour of their skin. If anything this article is racist for implying the latter. Yet more PC propaganda drivel from BBC.

  • Comment number 14.

    Wasn't there an article on exactly the same topic on here a few months back? Pretty much pouring over the same stats, names and dates. Done to death i think!

  • Comment number 15.

    #12 and #13, the article's main thrust is behind the fact that almost 100% of football managers are former players, and the respective percentages of 3% and 23%, the latter of which has been high and rising for decades now, show something may be amiss.

    Given that football managers, regardless of origin, are virtually exclusively chosen from players, this is a very valid point. Unless you believe janitors, marketing executives and toilet cleaners are qualified to become football managers. Get back to me on that one.

    "black population, of the UK, is about 6% of the total population and yet black players represents 24% of professional footballers... If you argue that there are more black players because young black players are more motivated, or naturally more athletically gifted, surely this is stereotyping & inherently racist?"
    Some things just are and while no one feels comfortable talking about them, the truth sits there quite happily to be stared at. Men's 100m anyone?

  • Comment number 16.

    there is no problem.

    I haven't researched figures but I'm pretty sure that there are more black players playing now than 30 years ago. In 30 years from now there will be more black managers. It just takes a bit of time for changes to take place.

    It isn't rocket science...

  • Comment number 17.

    can somebody explain to me why black footballers need a role model in management that is also black? Do they look at Arsene Wenger and think, he is a top manager, but he is white? If so, where does the problem lie? I dont look at a footballer and think, he is a great player, I wish I could do what he does, but I cant follow him because he is black/ french/ latin etc.

    I know its an old argument as well, but if we had an awards evening for white achievements in football, we would be crucified for it. Why is it OK for Afro Carribean's to seperate themselves out, but not OK for white Anglo Saxon's to do the same. By seprating themselves do they not perpetuate the problem?

    Given that many foreign and black players have won the PFA awards, why is there a need to have this 'exclusivity'. It is not as though they are not acknowledged by their peers, regardless of creed.

    It seems wrong and negative to me.

  • Comment number 18.

    As well as the obvious point that the 3% is probably more reflective of the 70's/80's playing figures another issue is foreign nationalities.

    Despite the influx of foreign players, foreign managers are still relatively uncommon. Indeed non-European managers in particular.

    It's no good saying 30% of players are black when a lot of these players are foreign naionals from nations that don't produce many coaches. How many foreign players choose to remain in England when they retire? If you look in Africa for example a large number of the national teams are managed by foreign coaches. Surely a more relevant figure is the amount of black British players which I'd guess is lower than 30%.

    Does my nut in the likes of Ince and Barnes playing the race card because they are rubbish managers. Do their peers even want to have a crack. Wrighty is doing broadcasting, Andy Cole has said he doesn't want to go into management. Dion Dublin has gone into tv work.

    There's only Sir Les who claims he's being overlooked and I don't think he'd be any more disadvantaged over a white player who had a similar career in today's cash rich game. He was never a captain or particularly successful.

    What next Phil Brown complaining discrimination when he gets sacked because he's orange?

  • Comment number 19.

    GreenGunner does make a good point, although it's very crudely put. I'm sure that one major factor on the current managerial situation is a result of of *past* racial bias in the playing population. Top clubs want managers with experience, so we're drawing on the pool of players from a minimum of a decade ago when there were fewer black players. Add in the fact that it will take a few existing black managers to make many players even consider management, and it begins to become obvious why this will be a slow process.

    I don't think it should be rushed, or we could risk existing staff becoming resentful of those who have been 'fast-tracked' -- and new managers feeling unworthy. Best to let it happen naturally; after all, Matt notes how the proportion of black *players* has been rising, without help. Talent will be rewarded, given time. There's too much money at stake in football to let something like race get in the way.

    In other news, I hadn't actually realised that Chris Hughton is black. That's embarrassing. I blame standard-def TV...

  • Comment number 20.

    I did a University dissertation on the representation of black footballers in the media and how it had effected to the England careers of black footballers from Cyril Regis to Andrew Cole. I discovered from my research that black players rarely took up central roles on the pitch. This was because of the racist stereotyping that existed (and still does) namely that black players were naturally athletic but lack the intelligence to occupy the central roles. This same theory may be a contributory factor as to why there are so few black managers.

    I would appreciate anyone else’s take on the above theory.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why are you asking this question?

    It's true that if 'non-white' coaches or prospective managers are not getting the opurtunities then there is a problem.

    It's also true that managers and coaches should be picked based on thier ability not there race etc. If you are chosing managers based on race or skin colour then, personally I would find this itself racist. And it then also brings up the question of why are there no little or no managers from the middle east or Asia?

    I don't see why there should be a specific percentage of one person doing a certain activity and why, if they aren't, there is a problem.

    The oportunities are there and so are the individuals, if they don't have the ability they won't make it.

    I know these points have probably already been made but I'm at work so it takes a while to read all the comments =p

  • Comment number 22.

    So I'm just going to note two numbers: 23 and three. The first is the percentage of footballers in the top four divisions who are black, and the second is the number of black managers working at that level. That's three out of 92, basically 3%. Does that sound right to you? Cards on table time: it does not sound right to me.

    and, the black community?

    good grief. you sound like a closet racist, not that i'm saying you are. this is a poor piece. if you start giving people opportunities based on their skin then you are just as bad. you make Garth seem intelligent with his Black FA.

  • Comment number 23.

    3. At 12:55pm on 10 Nov 2009, neonMoongod wrote:

    This article in itself is inherently racist in that it differentiates between 'white' and 'black'. I do not think you are racist, any more than most of us are (I think we all are, to varying degrees) - but as such this is equivalent to an internal mental segregation of 'black' people as the very basis of the argument. There should be no mention of colour in my opinion - as soon as it is mentioned a difference is implied, and we should surely be coming together as humans rather than displaying the miniscule differences of background and skin pigment.
    Absolutely spot on! Couldn't of put it better myself.

  • Comment number 24.

    You are so right. I always wanted to be Maradona or John Barnes when I played footy as a kid (until the hand of god). Not being latin or black never mattered a bit.

    You are also spot on with the awards bit you wrote. Mobo awards???

  • Comment number 25.

    Football is very much at the same stage as other areas of society in regard to the appointments of ethnic minorities in managerial roles.

    The days of entrusting a black person with a huge salary in order to do a job on the pitch (or in the workplace etc)being a problem have all but passed, especially if by doing their job well the contribute to actually making that club / business millions.

    However, actually placing a black man with the responsibility to spend the millions of chairman / shareholders / other stakeholders and actually manage a footballclub or any other business remains an issue with some people.

  • Comment number 26.

    There are no Chinese coaches in the English premier league.
    Racism, nothing but bitter twisted racism...

  • Comment number 27.

    I bet if Pele had ever said "right folks, I want to manage a team", many clubs would have gone for him.

    Does Ruud Guillet count as black.

    Off subject but still on it, should Lewis Hamilton, and Barack Obama be labelled black?

  • Comment number 28.

    This is the most pointless blog i have ever read. The fact that there is even an argument about how many black or white managers there are is racist in itself. And why can a black player not look up to a white manager and see them as a role model? Growing up some of my favourite footballers have been black (Thierry Henry, Rivaldo, Drogba, Viera) to name but a few, i look at these players with admiration at what they can do with a football, i'd love to be able to play like these guys. What i don't think is yes they're very good, but no i can't aspire to be like them becuase they're black. Thats a ridiculous point to make. And also, how many black players were there in the game 20 years ago? Give it another 20 years and im sure there will be plenty of black managers.

  • Comment number 29.

    Articles like this really annoy me. Exactly what point are you trying to make? That life isn't always fair? That the colour of a person's skin can influence the way they are perceived? Well, woopdeedoo! Well done for pointing this out. I really hadn't noticed. Please, do tell me, what are the percentages of Spanish players and managers? Or Catholics? How about tall people? And I don't mean to gloss over the negative effect that racism has on almost all aspects of daily life, but drawing attention to a non-issue to sell a web-page is irresponsible. Sport is one of the few arenas where the colour of your skin makes no real difference whatsoever. Until people write that it does.

  • Comment number 30.

    If there are ex footballers who want to actively work in management but are being refused based on the colour of their skin then this is outrageous and should be the top story on BBC Sport, otherwise I don't really see there is a problem.

  • Comment number 31.

    What we are talking about here is institutionalised racism (Check out the McPherson report for the official definition).

    It never ceases to amaze me how defensive the majority culture gets when you mention the word ‘racism.’ Trust me it not an attack on you as individuals but the system.

  • Comment number 32.

    there are so few half white half chinese role models out there. I have no one to look up to...

    so imagine how hard it will be for my quarter black, quarter chinese, half english daughter. She's doomed to a role model-less life.
    Poor girl.

    The more I think about this article, the more it annoys me. I hate the whole race card thing. It was relevant in bad times gone by, but not now.

    And why do you only single out blacks as being the only other race or colour worth singling out in your blog. Is that a subconscious racial issue lurking within you and the nation?

  • Comment number 33.

    what a horrible blog this is, and illustrates everything that is currently wrong with society.

    I'm sure people of all ethnic origins would be happy that, they would get a job, based on the fact they were good enough to do it, and had outdone rivals at interview stage.

    To say that a black candidate needs to be guarenteed an interview is completely racist. this suggests that any potential interviewee may have only got there because of this "scheme" also, it could be at the expense of a more qualified, suited white candidate.

    equal opportunites gone wrong, let's all live as one, if there are 150 applicants, the best man gets it, simple as.

  • Comment number 34.

    It’s clear to me that there are a lot of football fans out there who are not willing to take a step back to try to understand the black Diaspora.

    Nobody black would want a job just because of their colour; however what they yearn for is a level playing field (excuse the pun).

  • Comment number 35.

    there are 20 football bloggers on the BBC website.

    How many are Black or Asian or Muslim or lesbian or disabled or Hare Krishna or Mongolian?

    You guys are riddled with prejudices.

    Shame on you BBC...

  • Comment number 36.

    I don't think Ince got needless pressure because he was of black descent. He just wasn't good enough; indeed young managers like Southgate failed because they don't have the theoretical understanding of football such as studying Arrigo Sachhi's and Cruyff's methods etc.

    And also experience in developing youngsters therefore gaining better understanding of people's mindsets and development process. Van Basten was lucky as he worked under Sachhi and Rinus Michels but he also took his time out before to watch Wenger and other managers instead of like Southgate who tried to copy him without really getting the best understanding.

    17 games and bottom was more than enough time for Ince; Barnes and Mcateer were useless while Hughton is just a stop gap.

    McCarthy's assistant at Wolves is black and seems quite good but I think this is just the start of black coaches and you will start to see more (Vieira, Thuram) but I can't see many English ones at the moment....No, not Ferdinand.

  • Comment number 37.

    jjp_rec if you think sport is an arena where colour doesn't make a difference, then i respectfully suggest you wake up & smell the coffee

  • Comment number 38.

    Rather simplistic argument - and I don't for a minute believe it is true. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe only 3% of managers are black because they are the ones who are qualified for the job? What are you implying about the remaining 97%, that somehow they are "privledged" and hence under-qualified for their roles? MAybe the additional 20% who want to play football don't want to be managers (being a rather less widely attractive job, you must admit).

    It is a stupid, simplistic argument, and one I am tired of seeing. I'll tell you the great equaliser of races in our country; money.

    Do you really believe that, if there was a choice between a well-qualified black candidate and a less able white candidate, that boards in football clubs whould choose the lower chance of success just based on colour?

    Even if they are all closet racists, one thing I can guarantee is that the incentive from the money that success brings would "blind" their racism there and then. Whether these supposed "racists" saw it as "using" such candidates or not, the fact remains it is likely they would get the job.

    When "do gooders" like yourself write articles like this, it makes life difficult for those of us who consider ourselves equal members of British society - black, brown, pink or otherwise. It gives fuel to those geniune racists to belittle the achievements of non-white successful people by wheeling out the tired line "it's only because their black/brown etc".

    Positive discrimination to "fix" problems like this are as bad as racism itself. Equality is exactly that - not complaining about "quotas" or percentages.

    - A very irritated citizen of 3rd generation ethnic indian extraction. And no accusations of racism now, because I'm not (even though I could be - another bug bearer; racism is not the preserve of the "white", it infects all strata of society)

  • Comment number 39.

    I find this article to show a lack of understanding for football and the system behind the selection of managers. First and foremost, football has, and always will be, a meritocracy. It does not judge a candidate on race, age, colour, religion etc. but purely on what the individual has to offer and what they have done previously. Football looks beyond the colour of the candidate.

    I believe that by introducing the proposterous Rooney rule that you would be patronising black managers because deep down they know that they are being interviewed, not on merit, not on their CV, but because of some ill-fated ruling that is in place. Any self-respecting individual - black or white - wouldn't want to gain an interview, let alone a managerial job in this way?

    You state that black managers are under a higher level of scrutiny and this is simply not true. Football, ever more so these days, is a results based business - poor results will inevitably lead to the sack regardless of colour. For every Barnes that you cite for the lack of time given, I can throw you a Darren Ferguson, whom despite his two promotions in successive seasons, has found himself the sack because of poor results, in return.

    The problem is not the lack of opportunities given, it is the lack of candidates going for the position, which will not be solved by the introduction of this Rooney rule

  • Comment number 40.

    No mention of other minorities? Women, other ethnicities? What about the prevailing anti-gay culture that still plagues football?

  • Comment number 41.

    Complete non-issue in my opinion. A capable manager will get a job whatever his skin colour. Enforcing a rule to promote black managers creates a discrimination that wasn't there in the first place.

  • Comment number 42.

    amon64lfc, unfortunately most black people do not live in the same Utopia that you do!
    opinionated_poppinjay, racism is about power and based on your ethnicity you don't have the power to be racist.

  • Comment number 43.

    A good example is Chris Kamara - a good black player, had a crack at management which didn't work out and went into broadcasting which did.

    He is not a manager due to ability, luck and his decision to develop his successful career with BSkyB whjen he had the chance not because of his colour.

    PC rubbish like this is only going to lead to resentment and people accusing other ethnic groups of getting jobs unfairly rather than on merit

  • Comment number 44.

    I might be wrong but I haven't seen any recent articles on why there are so few white 100m sprinters, asian top flight footballers, black England cricketers, or black olympic swimmers... all these are interesting questions of equal importance to the one posed in this article, but these questions seem to be largely forgotten about while the subject of black managers is talked to death.
    While this article is mildly interesting and the statistics on the ratios of current black players to current black managers is worth briefly noting, it really isn't worth the amount of time and licence payers money being spent on researching and writing about this topic.

  • Comment number 45.

    "So I'm just going to note two numbers: 23 and three. The first is the percentage of footballers in the top four divisions who are black, and the second is the number of black managers working at that level. That's three out of 92, basically 3%. Does that sound right to you? Cards on table time: it does not sound right to me."

    That statistic is flawed though.

    It stands to reason that the large majority of black players won't go in to management because lots of them haven't spent a long time in the country, simple as that. Let's be fair, the large majority of African players who currently play in the Premiership for example, wouldn't have a clue where Luton, Rochdale or Chesterfield is - they're here to play football. It's not about colour of skin- I suspect that the number of, say, Eastern European managers is disproportionately low compared to the number of players too.

    People who grow in a country, serve their apprenticeship and become immersed in the game are far more likely to forge a successful managerial career, whether they're Harry Redknapp, John Rudge or Paul Ince. Skin colour is a non-issue - indeed I'd say that football is one of the most non-racist 'industries'.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree - things will eventually change for the better and things will be equal... I believe this as there is no reason why a white or black manager should be better or worse than the other...

    something that has always interested me - are the Scottish "positively discriminated" for football management roles in the British game... there seems to be a huge "over population" of Scottish managers given the small percentage they should make up if it was solely based on population/statistics???

    For what it is worth - i couldn't really care if they are - and i think it can be explained due to the success of Scottish managers during the history of football....

  • Comment number 47.

    If they want the opportunity, and, more importantly, If they are good enough, they will get a chance. It's just coinsidence.

  • Comment number 48.

    Why is the BBC so obsessed with skin colour and the promotion of racism.
    I live in a mixed marriage and skin coulour here is neutral. This should be everywhere.Its who you are not your skin colour that matters.

  • Comment number 49.

    Agree with #14. I remember a big piece on this subject on the BBC website a while ago. Can't see that this blog has added anything new to the debate.

  • Comment number 50.

    Likewise, 100% of finalists in a major swimming final will be white, but if somewone were to assert that Caucasions were genetically more gifted at swimming, all hell would break loose.
    My point is that a lot of fuss is made over jobs/professions where ethnic minorities are under represented, with demands for positive discrimination etc, yet all is silent regarding areas where ethnic minorities are over represented. Matt Slater tries to use a statistic to show discrimination, when it equally can be used to show the opposite.

  • Comment number 51.

    This blog is nothing but racism how low the BBC has sunk.
    You are junk BBC unrealistic and an insult to the Licence fee payers.
    What will you promote next that people of different skin colour pay different taxes. How about we paint the seats on public transport different colours so we all know where to sit.

  • Comment number 52.

    Few goalies become managers. Is that goalkeeperist?

    The numbers are from the same reason there are more Scottish managers as a percentage than current players. 20-30 years ago there were more Scottish players than there are now, many of them became managers.

    A lot of foreign players go home to coach and manage, so we're mostly talking about the percentage of UK based players 20-30 years ago. Most managers were central midfielders, some central defenders or wingers but strikers are few (Mark Hughes) and goalies very rare indeed. So we're looking at UK based central midfielders of 20-30 years ago. And top managers are rarely top players - Wenger, Ferguson, Mourinho, Benitez and Redknapp have how many cup or league winners medals as players? None as far as I recall. So the most likely manager is a a UK based central midfielder of 20-30 years ago who probably didn't win a lot of trophies.

    I suspect the current managerial percentages reflect that better than your superficial figures.

    In future there may be an even greater percentage of managers not from the top division. The modern wage packet means that former players do not need to work. Punditry appears to be an easier route and obviously needs far less talent for logical analysis, wouldn't you agree Matt?

  • Comment number 53.

    Lets take a step back from this a minute. Has anybody thought of that most taboo of thoughts... perhaps black managers just aren't good enough? Heaven forbid we should talk about facts.

  • Comment number 54.

    Yep. Time for some positive discrimination me thinks! More "black" managers for the Football League. In the same way that we should see more "white" players.


    If you're good enough, you play. Likewise, for coaching and management.

    The statistics distort the truth of the demographics and populations at play here. Let's for the sake of argument say the average manager is 25 years older than the average player. How many "black" players were there in the English game 25 years ago? Less than 23%. Yes. Closer to 3%. Certainly!

    Experience in the English game with respect to "making it" as a manager is key here. Any link to racism is historic, and a dim memory.

    The bias in how the numbers have been used in this article could form a new branch of mathematics - statistical racism - and that's not being spurious.....

  • Comment number 55.

    what a load of tosh. why is it acceptable to ask for more black people to do jobs. jobs should be based on skill rather than skin colour. its racist to ask for more black just like it would be racist for me to ask for more white

  • Comment number 56.

    I'd love to see Garth Crooks record as manager. Played 100, lost 100 but sacked 'cuz I is black'.


  • Comment number 57.

    Evening all, just spent an hour of my life replying to your comments only to lose everything when I accidently hit 'back'. Must go home now, it's been a long day, but will re-post my replies as this blog has clearly sparked a lot of debate, much of it quite depressing.

  • Comment number 58.

    In my view its not a racism issue but more statistics. Look at it this way ten people go for a manager job, 9 of them are White and one is Black. What is the chance that the Black candidate is going to get the job if they are all more or less equal in terms of ability. If one of the white cadidates gets the job, yes the Black candidate has been rejected but so have 8 white candidates. Yet people only concentrate ont he rejection of the black candidate. Racism will always exist aslong we continue to make distinction based on race wether it be positive or negative. I bet you just as many people voted for Obama becuase he was black than voted agasint him becuase he was black, both in my eyes are racist actions.

  • Comment number 59.

    This is ridiculous. The whole black managers in football debate is a complete waste of time and totally irrelevent. The fact there are few black managers is purely coincidental.

    "The 2009 Black List Awards"

    That’s racist, for a start.


    "Without role models to look up to fewer black footballers than white footballers consider management."

    So, in order for somebody to be considered a role model, they must first be the same colour skin as yourself?

    It's ridiculous, get a grip.

  • Comment number 60.

    Yep agreed with 59.

    What was the main attribute you had to have to be considered on the 'Black List Awards 2009'.

    Sounds to me like it was to have black skin.

    Imagine if there was a 'White List Awards 2009', there would be outrage. And why is there a reason to separate the two anyway, do they think they can't compete and need their own awards list or something?

  • Comment number 61.

    #53 Joe
    Saying black managers aren't good enough is properly racist. Now if there has been scenarios where managers have not been good enough then fine. Some of them happen to be black, but also there are white managers who have not been good enough.

    #45 Ceiling Fan
    I agree, a lot of the black players who make up the statistics in the above blog have only come here to play football. It is likely that they will either leave to move to another club or go into management in their native country. If they want to go into management here and are the right person for the job then good luck to them.

    #57 Matt Slater

    /as this blog has clearly sparked a lot of debate, much of it quite depressing./

    I don't think it is depressing. I think that is has sparked debate purely because people feel passionately about their sport and any remarks that racism runs through the game can be insulting when you do not even treat people differently based on race.

    Like I have said before if people are coming forward and saying that they have applied for many jobs and they believe they are not getting opportunities based on the colour of their skin then it is news. Until this point there is no problem as far as I am concerned.

  • Comment number 62.

    A decent article Matt in which you highlighted facts and opinions which often appear in the broadsheets. Your final sentence as a personal view is admirable and one that I share. Racism/prejudice is likely to always persist at the highest level. The chances of a non-white politician going all the way to the very top is unrealistic here in Britain. Football is a different matter because black people in particular have uprooted previously illogical assertions of white supremacy.

    Sports; athletics and football in particular over the past few decades have taught us that black people are if anything 'superior' in certain high-intensive sports (without any connatations in using this word). Furthermore I object to the term 'black' used to describe players/managers like Chris Hughton, Rio Ferdinand and hundreds of other athletes. Most are clearly equally 'white' or some other race, so why do people from all layers of society continue to refer to anyone of mixed background involving a black father or mother as a 'black' person?

    I confer that skin colour should be irrelevant but terminology surely adds to the mix? Why IS Beyonce, Obama, Lewis Hamilton and other renowned individuals without protest described as black? I have mixed race friends who like to think they are too are 'black' no matter how much I diasagree and try teaching them to be proud and acknowledge their 'mixed' background. Some assert that it's because their black genes are the stronger or determines their apperance(whatever that means); perhaps social conditionong is a factor? Whilst on the opposite spectrum, a facist may view a mixed-race person with one black parent as 'black' because the white purity has been tarnished. The whole issue needs more debate so it would be good to see more people commenting on this issue.

    Also, what about the severe lack of professional footballers from ethnic Asian backgrounds? Is racism to blame here? As a British-Bengali I have seen numerous qulaity players at school, college and univeristy level. Rather than lack of oppurtunity, I think the effect of culture and also the misconception that such a career path is a gamble plays a significant part. Furthermore, I've been partially convinced by a few that in general Asians (particularly those of Indian background) lack the temperament required at higher levels of the game. Surely not? In all honesty I perosnally have no solid or sound opinions but I am just chucking a few ideas/perspectives into the hat.

    I have much more to say but have no time. I will return to the page in a few hours to add further contributions. In the mean time, I hope many more add comments for me and others to read. Don't be afraid of being branded a racist! It's all about self-respect and having a logical belief in the equality of man, no matter what the external/internal differences may be. Solutions to race issues are notoriously difficult to concieve but (at the very least) registering disgust at the ill-treatment of someone on the basis of their racial background is something we should all naturally capable of.

  • Comment number 63.

    How many English managers have won the premiership? How many English managers are worthy of consideration for International duty?

    Frankly, not quite sure why so many posters here passionately defend the status quo.

  • Comment number 64.

    If there was any shred of evidence of someone being turned down a job on the basis of the colour of the skin, then i may consider there to be a problem. But there's not. I don't know why there's not more managers from a wider spread of ethnic groups - you'd have to ask the individuals themselves (why didn't you?)

    Anyway, wWat to do you suppose we do to correct this problem, force former players to become managers simply because they're black? That to me is very racist.

    The simple fact is it doesn't matter what colour or creed a manager is, so long as he is the right man for the job.

  • Comment number 65.

    It SOUNDS good to say "if there're good enough they'll get it".
    The article is trying to ask why? maybe it's not nuanced enough for a football crowd to grasp (but that'd be streotyping too).
    It's trying to get at the why? Not getting people hot under the collar about "postive discrimination" or "reverse racism" or any pet Daily Mail peeve. Just why?

    For an opportunity - someone has to be interviewed. If as Barnes (maybe not a good example, but - hey - there aren't many examples) says he took the Jamaica job because they offered and nobody else had, that suggests it's a matter of being invited to the table. Not given it on a platter but being invited. Crooks said as much why he didn't try that route.

    To dismiss the article as being PC is easy and doesn't cost much but Matt still has a point.
    The wider public probably doesn't care / want to hear this - so this sits more easily with "Voice"/"New Nation" than the BBC readers.

    No one expects to recruit based on ethnicity but to invite to the table (a la Dan Rooney) to have a crack at it - like anyone else - sounds good.

    The way the NFL is/was, there've been (a few) black quarterbacks but it's always deemed that a black player fitted the athletic Jim Brown type role.
    As #20 alluded to, the central roles here seem to go elsewhere.

    On an aside, hoped Tigana would've had as much of an invite for the FF job as Hoddle or Domenech but wasn't to be...wasn't even called it seems. We'll never know if he's the "right man for the job" if he isn't even invited to say his tuppence.

    It's just a question. People shouldn't get too roiled for Matt asking.

  • Comment number 66.

    The explosive race issue emerges again. I would not support a quota system for managers any more than I would for players.

    Just two things:
    1) how many good young English managers are there? Of course, success is in a large part contingent on having a good team, but many would argue that Shearer, Southgate and Adams (England contemporaries of Ince) have not produced compelling signs of being a potentially strong manager. I cannot help but think that prospective managers should take a little more time and try and examine other footballing cultures. None of the above have any trace of the intelligence and breadth of experience of someone like Ruud Gullit. He was not barred from the Chelsea job, and won a trophy or two along the way.
    2) Racism is ugly, as is homophobia. I feel the latter is more prevalent than the former in English football today.

  • Comment number 67.

  • Comment number 68.

    Guys - just because a blog/article/topic is about race doesn't make it racist. I don't think the author here is in anyway taking any side - so I think it's quite fair to be honest, I certainly wasn't offended reading it and i'm not a bnp member or anything!

    The comment above is quite interesting about "quotas" or representation in general. Should Portsmouth/charlton/whoever be made to play a proportionate percentage of white players?? When you pug it that way it sounds absolutely ridiculous.

    Opportunity should be based on abillity and ability only. Race should never be an issue

  • Comment number 69.

    Having read a few of these posts, there seems to be an overriding naivety regarding the significance race still holds in sport of all kinds. Like someone who has already commented, I did a uni dissertation on the significance of race in sport and specifically the significance of sport In the African-American community. There should be no mistake that progress made in regards to race and racism in modern society does not mask the significance and influence history holds today.

    The suggestion that black people should be able to just hold any successful manager up as a role model regardless of race is naive beyond belief. With all the racism that has existed in this country (and still exists to a lesser extent today) only the presence of black managers at the highest level will give black kids the role models they need. In the past, for a black manager to have succeeded he would have to have been 10 times better than the White manager with whom he was competing for the job. Young black people need proof that their race will not be considered as a contributing factor to their performance in a particular job. Why do you think the NFL 65% black, not because of black athletic superiority (a myth), but because there are an abundance of black sportsmen plastered all over the media telling young black kids that is how they can get ahead in life and Proportionally so few successfull black people in other walks of life. If a stereotype is perpetuated long enough by the majority of a society it becomes more real everyday.

    A black manager of Manchester united could do for black managers what Barack Obama will do for black politicians.

  • Comment number 70.

    This is a lot of fuss over very little. A regurgitated panic piece on a slow news day. Managers are older than players, and the percentage of black people is lower in the 35-65 age range which typically provides managers. Plus, a higher proportion of the black players aren't British or European, which is where most managers come from. The issue of how few Asians there are in football has consistantly been ignored, not to mention the lack of Jewish or openly gay players. And, above all, is there discrimination at play in the high proportion of black players? Does anybody dare to ask that one?

  • Comment number 71.

    I am sick of articles like this, i do not care how many black managers/players are in the league, I do not care if they are all white, all black or a complete mix. It makes no difference to the sports, teams etc. Stop worrying about trivial matters. Maybe if people stop bringing things like this up there would be fewer incidents of racism as people in the media have stopped highlighting the colour of peoples skin and the percentage of each.

  • Comment number 72.

    In the late 70's when Viv Anderson became the first black man to play for England it was a sensation.At that point in time there were no black managers and very few black players in the old first division.I
    remember the late Justin Fashanu doing an article in Shoot magazine about an all black team in the old first division and I think he was short of a goalkeeper,but since then things have changed a little bit and I believe things can only get better if black players try to take their coaching badges while still playing active football.
    Years ago the thought of a Black president in the USA was unthinkable but Obama taught us that if you believe, anything is possible.Once Black players believe in themselves it is a matter of time before the unfair statistics are adjusted.Its only a matter of time.

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree with both Sonic and Lady bird. Quite simply, the 'lack' of black managers is simply down to a trickle down of players into managers. How many guys manage without playing? only a handful. In contrast a lot of players never pursue management, regardless of their ethnicity, just because they don't want to. When the current crop of players retires, a certain amount will coach and manage, others will become pundits, others will do nothing!

    I think an issue is being made where there doesn't need to be an issue. Football management isn't something that can be walked into, it's a highly skilled profession that takes arguably YEARS of development during a playing career and subsequent on the job progression through being a youth team or assistant coach.

  • Comment number 74.


    "there is no problem.

    I haven't researched figures but I'm pretty sure that there are more black players playing now than 30 years ago. In 30 years from now there will be more black managers. It just takes a bit of time for changes to take place.

    It isn't rocket science..."

    Concise and to the point and I couldn't agree with you more. I thought the original article was pretty poor.

  • Comment number 75.

    Hi Matt

    I think an article detailing the following would be interesting.

    How do you apply for a managerial position, obviously this is different to conventional jobs and it would be really interesting to get an insight to this.

    Whilst taking job interviews for a position in my IT team last year I had to shortlist the candidates and submit all of my notes from this and the interview process to HR. This is so that if anyone believes they are being discriminated against there is documentation to prove or disprove this claim. Does the same process occur at football clubs?

    Interview ex pros who haven't gone into management why this is the case? Would "affirmative action" encourage them into football management?

  • Comment number 76.

    You forgot to add Chris Coleman, he certainly has no less 'black' in him than the ultimate 'black' role model Tiger Woods........

  • Comment number 77.

    Racism in football is always worthy of discussion and review.
    This article however brings nothing new to the debate at all. Instead it refers to the usual stats and info, black managers blah blah, Paul Ince blah blah.
    There is an assumption that because only 3% of managers are black there are underlying race issues in football. Is it race or is it more due to proportion of the population?
    The 2001 census states that 87% of the English population and 96& of the Welsh were white. Only 1.1% of the population were Black Caribbean, 0.9% Black African and 0.2% from other black groups.
    The 23% black players in the top four divisions obviously includes foreign players who do not intend to pursue a career in this country after their playings days are over and unlikely to become managers in any event. This stat therefore distorts the picture.
    For a meaningful debate where is the evidence that potential black managers are being over looked or denied opportunities due the colour of their skin? we'd like to hear this.
    You refer to the pressure on Paul Ince being the first black manager in the premiership contributing to his downfall. How? From whom?
    Are you suggesting the Blackburn board felt they couldn't give him any further games to prove himself because he was black or the fans wouldn't tolerate this like they would if he were white?
    Or are you suggesting Ince himself couldn't work to the best of his abilities because he couldn't handle being black?
    If there was any pressure put upon him it was from people like you in the media banging on about that fact to the point of obsession. The average fan genuinely doesn't care what colour of his skin is. The only dislike towards Ince is from West Ham fans upset at the disrespect he showed the club before leaving for Man U. Not because he was black mind.
    I am sure there is racism in football I mean the vast majority of people around the world are racist to a certain degree against blacks, whites, asians, turks, kurds, yanks, canadians, cornish etc etc.
    In 2009 racism isn't just about black and white. What about Asians, Eastern Europeans, Arabs and Muslims. They are poorly represented in English football why not include them in any debate?
    Why restrict it to football? How many black cricketers, tennis players or snooker players plying their trade professionally? Why constantly knock football which is an industry that attempts to confront race more than any other industry bar none.
    I'm not denying there could be racist attitudes within football but to just base it on 3 mangers is lazy. Why not explore the lack of black captains trusted to lead the top teams? Liverpool, Chelsea, Man U, Villa, West Ham how many of the top clubs who employ an abundance of black footballing talent credit them with the captain's armband.
    Your dated and simplified articled takes the issue nowhere where it hasn't been before.

  • Comment number 78.

    I don't think it is right to beat Matt up for pointing out the disparity between the number of black people who have obtained the Uefa B coaching qualification and those who eventually get offered coaching roles. He did point out that 12.5% have the UEFA B qualification while only 3% have jobs. It is hard to imagine all those people took the coaching classes with no intention of ever using them. So it should be investigated why they are 'not good enough' or being overlooked.

    You might also want to check the facts. Before the last match against Portsmouth, at this time last year, Blackburn under Ince were in exactly the same position as they were under Sam Allardyce this year. Prior to the match against Portsmouth, I did not hear any calls for Sam Allardyce's head.

    I agree we should not focus on our differences, this should be easier if equal opportunities are made available. Then there is no basis on which to make any comparison and as a matter of fact any attempt at such comparison becomes foolish. Glaring disadvantaged differences like this create unneccasry opportunities for unfavorable comparison.

    Cricket and Snooker, I dont see many black players playing these games. However it is different in football, and you also wonder why there are so few black referees?

  • Comment number 79.

    The stats are flawed. At anyone time it is fair to assume that there will be more white managers than black, or vice versa. Does that mean that if there are more black managers than white that the clubs are being racist towards white managers?

    I saw a survey a while ago that claimed that men were more likely to pass their driving test than women, and that something should be done about it. The examiners argued that women were more nervous than men and that is why men were passing more tests.

    I'm not saying that black managers are nervous of managing this is merely an example.

    We also need to look at how many black managers are applying for the available jobs. I really think that in ten years time it will not be a problem and seeing a black man manage a football team within the league system will be as common place as seeing a black football player pull on the shirt of one of the 92 league teams.

  • Comment number 80.

    I think all the main rebuttals have been made, and I agree with most of them.

    * looking at stats in itself is not enough - if you really are concerned go and interview potential managers who never made it, and find out from them if they feel they were never given a fair chance or not. For example, accounts like the one by Paul Canoville are truly shameful - we need more by people like him. Was it just a few bad clubs, or was it widespread?

    * why limit the article to black managers, and not asian, orientals, homosexuals...

    * if you really want to use statistics, you need to be work out a more sophisticated formula than just looking at % of black players and coaches.
    For a start, you need to take nationality into account (let's face it, Gauthier Mahoto is never going to apply for the Rushden and Diamonds job).
    Then take age - how many players in Wenger / Ferguson's age bracket were black? If you plot the numbers on a graph perhaps you'll get more meaningful data
    The add position - no goalkeepers, and not many strikers.
    And finally add the level they played at - most decent coaches weren't from the top clubs.
    So, we are looking at black, British ex-midfielders who played for Queen of the South or Carlisle in the 1960s. What was the percentage again?

    Personally I think the numbers are low because of racism in the past, but times have changed. Rio, Ashley Cole, Wright-Philips, etc, any of them would be allowed to have a coaching career

  • Comment number 81.

    Right, where was I?

    Shammyowens (1) – Thanks and you’re right about Sir Les and Andy Cole is now at Huddersfield. I can’t speak for Ian Wright but the former pair have expressed frustration about a relative lack of opportunities to top managerial/coaching positions in the past.

    Chocolateboxkid (2) – Can honestly say that the first I knew of The Guardian piece was after this was written, but it was a piece by Matthew Syed in The Times (and Paddy Barclay’s response to it) that planted the seed for my look at the subject. To answer your final question, Warwick Uni (where the FA does many of its coaching courses) says last year ago 20% of its Uefa B graduates were black and this year it was 12.5%.

    NeonMoongod (3) – I think we agree, don’t we? But surely we haven’t become so sensitive about this issue that we can’t say there are black people and white people? I like your last paragraph, though.

    Dss (4) – Yes, fair point. But even if half the black players in English football were non-British the discrepancy between black managers and black footballers would be pretty stark. And what it is stop non-British black players from becoming managers (like Gullit and Tigana, for example)? After all, the leagues are full of non-Brit white managers, many of whom played here.

    Bullyboyblue (5) – Fair comment, you clearly know more about Ince’s Blackburn tenure than I do. But my memory of it is that he didn’t have a great deal to spend, started well, then lost Santa Cruz and Dunne, fell out with Bentley (not the first or last) and wheels came off. I remember thinking at the time, however, that he was under the microscope from the beginning and the mood turned against him pretty quickly. He feels this way too. And let’s not forget, he came with a great CV and is back doing a great job at MK again.

    Rabster (6) – You’re right, I haven’t “actively consulted” lots of black ex-players but Kick it Out, the PFA and Warwick Uni have and I’ve spoken to them. Trust me, it is not just me who thinks the 3% - 23% gap is suspiciously wide. And I spoke to plenty of people at the Black List event at Wembley and I can promise you this issue is a major talking point for Afro-Caribbean people involved in football.

    GreenGunner (7) – Yes, of course it has. I acknowledge the point in the piece. But black players have suddenly appeared on the scene, they have been growing in number since the late ‘70s. Those early pioneers are now far too old for starting out in management, as are most of those followed in early 80s. The fact is that first-time managers are now in their late 30s/early 40s so don’t tell me there isn’t a decent-sized pool of black managerial talent out there.

    Adampsb (8) – According to the 2001 census, the black, or African-Caribbean, community makes up 2% of British population. The total ethnic minority population is about 8%. But I’m not sure this has much to do with what we’re talking about as football managers are not, by and large, recruited from the wider population. They are almost exclusively ex-footballers, so that is the crucial population to look at.

    Rob Gray (9) – I’m not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that we shouldn’t talk about black managers when there are managers working in England from all over the world? If yes, why aren’t more of those managers black? As I said in the piece, I don’t the answer, I’m only asking.

    Isacki (10) and (15) – Agreed. That’s why I lost my temper. We haven’t spoken since. And I’m glad to see somebody has got the connection between the total player population and the pool of talent from which managers are selected.

    Norman Brownside (11) – Interesting. That is what I’ve been hearing too.

    Stracepipe (12) – Why is it interesting that I object to being called a racist? I don’t consider myself to have racist views and was greatly annoyed when somebody with an agenda to shoot down a perfectly reasonable sports news story decided to play the race card and make threats about future access to players at his club. And what does your point about Oliver Brett have to do with anything? I’m glad you appear to agree with the main thrust of this piece but I’m sorry, I can’t account for why black players are over-represented in the football leagues in relation to their numbers in the overall population. I’m no sociologist or sports scientist, so I’ll pass on that one. But we’re talking about something very different here. Why black players aren’t following their white counterparts into management in similar numbers. And where do you get off making my arguments for me and then accusing me of racism because of it?!?

    PulpGrape (13) – You’re right, it shouldn’t matter. I say it in the piece and so does Ince in the video. And I look forward to the day when we can say your second point with conviction. But to suggest I’m being racist and then accuse me of propagating PC propaganda shows a complete misunderstanding of the term racist.

    Marshooetheimp (14) – News to me, if there was. Last time we did this was 2007 to my knowledge. And you know what? Nothing has changed in two years.

    The78sum (16) – You’re right, that ain’t rocket science, and nothing I have written above contradicts your argument. I also agree things will look a lot different in a few years time. But would I be so relaxed about the future if I was, let’s say, a 37-year-old black footballer wondering what to do next?

    Ghisared (17) – Good question and not one I’m particularly well qualified to answer. My guess would be that prospective managers from the black community would look up to the likes of Capello, Fergie, Mourinho and Wenger too, why wouldn’t they? But a black role model would resonate on a different level, the connection in terms of obstacles overcome would be stronger. I think this is probably part of the ethnic minority experience in societies that have, in the past, exhibited aggression/resistance towards you. White Anglo-Saxons don’t really need to “separate themselves” in a largely white Anglo-Saxon society (and yes, I know this is changing rapidly) but other communities might feel they need to shout about/ring-fence their achievements a little bit in order to make themselves heard.

    Bellion- wonderland (18) – I’ve already answered this misconception that we should be thinking about the number of black players in 70/80s – it’s time to think more about the 90s. And why aren’t you asking the obvious question about why there are “nations that don’t produce many coaches”? Why do you think so many African nations are managed by Europeans? As for Ince playing the race card, I don’t he has. And I don’t think Barnes has either, certainly not in terms of his sacking. He was pretty upset he didn’t get any interviews after Celtic, though. As for Cole, he now appears to have changed his mind and I can assure you there are far more black ex-players who would love a crack at management but believe, for whatever reason, it won’t happen for them.

    Phantomgorilla (19) – Good points, well made. Thanks for taking the time to actually read the piece.

    Paul Hyde (20) – Sounds interesting and I can’t say I’m surprised. I think an old mate of mine did something similar at university on black rugby players.

    Conky (21) – You’re asking all the right questions. All I can say is that a great many black ex-players feel they aren’t being given a fair chance at management/coaching. Most of them shy away from putting this down to out-and-out racism (correctly in my view) and blame old-fashioned career expectations, the reasonably understandable desire for people in power to appoint people they are most comfortable with or an unwillingness to take a chance on a new guy. The numbers would appear to bear this out.

    Captainlazytim (22) – I don’t get it. Are saying having I asked the black community what they think? If yes, then, no, I haven’t asked each and every one of them. But I’ve asked a few and there is an overwhelming consensus: they’re annoyed about the disparity. As for your comment about me being a closet racist, I’m not sure what I can say (is this when I should bleat ‘but some of my best friends are black?!?). Fair enough if you don’t like affirmative action policies, I’m not sure I really like them either. But then I’m an idealist and sometimes society needs a kick in the pants. I believe this is what the Rooney rule has done for the NFL.

    I’m starting to glaze over a bit now and I think I’ve answered most of the recurring questions.

    I always knew this piece would provoke some heated debate and there’s nothing with that. I just wish we could all be a bit more honest and open-minded about issues like this because the sooner we learn to talk about them sensibly the sooner we can consign them to the past.

    Anyway, thanks for reading/commenting.

  • Comment number 82.

    I think this article is a joke. Seriously who cares what percentage is black. How about breaking it down country by country its a joke, where do you stop? There is a very simple reality to face here, the best man for the job regardless! People beating this sort of drum just makes these issues worse.

  • Comment number 83.

    An interesting article. One that has provoked a lot of comment. I am going to tell a short story - please do forgive me if I ramble on too much.I have looked at this issue before, when I was an undergraduate studying sport science at University. I wrote a paper in my 1st sports sociology module. I the paer asked me to discuss the effects of racism of english football. Whilst everyone was talking about chanting and 'monkey noises' & hurling bananas onto the soccr pitch, I had the audacity to ask the question - not accuse anyone of racism - ask the question, as to whether or not there is a 'glass ceiling' that prevents ex-black english bred professional football players from making the transition into management in the professional football league.

    I think at this point it is important to inform everyone (If you have not guessed it already) that.....yes...I am black (Uk born of Jamaican parentage). Allow me to bring some statistics to the table. In my 1st year, there were only 3 other black people in that class of a group of 65. I was the only black person to pick the racism in football topic. No one (yes I did check) discussed the lack of black players in management. Every single other person discussed racial behaviour by fans on the terraces. I was the only person to fail that unit in the whole class - I did resubmit it, and pass.

    Baring in mind that this was in 1997...I hope you'll forgive if I sound slightly deranged. I look back at that incident and realsied that it taught me alot, but even more on reflection. As I have now begun to work in professional post-uni circles I have made some interesting observations, about race, colour, class, opportunities and such. I have come to some conclusions. Many have been confirmed by comments made by people, to me and in general conversation. Professioanlly from the age of 26 (after I graduated )I have always worked in a prodominantly white environment. The one thing that constantly re-occurs, is the inability for white people to grasp the basic concept of racism. Furthermore this inate shortcoming is compounded by the fact that whenever the conversation comes up, the agenda shifts in a convienent manor to include the class barriers, gender bias, and "look at me. I got pick on at school because my hair is ginger." all of which dilutes the topic, and diverts attention from the main focus.

    These kind of replications/comments often take place at a diner party, or works drinks night, when the token "black man" who is present(yours truly) has not discussed anything about colour - parlty because yours truly knows what direction the conversation is going in - but also because there is amuch greater truth.

    How can a group of white people effectively discuss & comprehend the full effects of racism amougst themselves, especially when they neither understand nor define racism?

    HANG ON THERE.....JUST WAIT A MINUTE!!!!! I hear you say.... racism is awful, disgusting. I know what racism is!!!! I live next door to a coloured family!!!! I ate jerk chicken last week!!! how dare you!!!! I had a black partner once!!!! ACCUSE ME OF NOT UNDERSATNDING RACISM??!!??!!??!!

    Well I put it to the public that to understand what I am talking about then you need to take into account the following.

    1) Racism is based on power.....where there is a power dynamic, there can be racism. The less the impact you have on the power dynamic, the less opportunity you have to become racist. ANYONE CAN BE PREJUDICE.....BUT YOU NEED POWER TO BECOME RACIST.

    2) The term "institutional racism" is an insult to my intelligence. As I see it racism has to start within institutions, organisations, and active bodies/associations. These acting bodies use either legislation, or rules/regulations/unwritten codes of practice to actively execute their agenda - be it associated with gender, sexual orientation or race to continue their own "ethos" & "code of ethics"

    3)It is impossible....yes I said impossible...for anyone goup of people from a european background to to have an exclusively internal discussion about the topic of racism and come up with any meaningful solutions. This results in the problem of "political correctness" and agendas being set with legislation & laws being designed by liberal do-gooders "who feel awful about what our people done to yours 400 years ago" ...only for some disavdantaged white people to accuse some black people of having "a chip on their shoulder", or "taking our counrty away from us."

    Rambling on ????? not making any sense?????? "This black guy is doing my head in!!!!....talking all this nonsense"......maybe.

    Maybe, I am talking garbage....ranting on....not making any sense. But if you are reading this and you are white, how can you be so sure????

    Three fianl points. Ask yourself.

    Who holds the seat of power in professional football league?
    If qualifcations are paramount to applying for jobs, then what do you say to 12.5% of black coaches who have a UEFA B badge?
    Who determines what constitutes an act of racism?

  • Comment number 84.

    within the next 10-15 years there will be be a massive rise in black managers naturally, without it having to be raised and made into an issue.

    my prediction is for paul ince to make it as a premiership manager if he gets his tactical management right, he deffinately has the presence and repect off the players! no doubt about that.

  • Comment number 85.

    As someone else has mentioned, 24% of footballers are black while less than 6% of the population are black. He suggested this could in some ways be seen as racism. He was only being hypothetical obviously.

    As a possibility, could it be that young black men are inherently better built as athletes? They generally seem to excel at sports demanding speed such as athletics, football and the wings in rugby. Perhaps they have an advantage here. However suggesting any kind of anatomical difference is obviously going to lead to problems and serious arguments.

    Yet when it comes to managers, there are more skills needed than simply being phyical and athletic, as Mourinho and Wenger show. When it gets to this stage maybe the playing field is more level and everyone competes against each other and the 3% of black managers could be said almost to faily represent the 3% of the population?

    This is not necessarily my view, it is just another view I am posing in this debate.

  • Comment number 86.

    1. "Trust me, it is not just me who thinks the 3% - 23% gap"

    How can you be trusted when such a sensitive subject is addressed using paper thin statistics? The significant point made about the high percentage of black players that are foreign needs not to be brushed aside with a trivial acknowledgement but researched! Most of these players gravitate back to their country of origin or elsewhere later in their careers. Re-do the stats if you want a credible article.

    2. "All I can say is that a great many black ex-players feel they aren’t being given a fair chance at management/coaching."

    Evidence of the research and details please....otherwise this is just hearsay to support your article. How many is 'a great many' for example?

    3. "I just wish we could all be a bit more honest and open-minded about issues like this.."

    By that I assume you wish everyone would agree with you? Well, as the journalist you need to do far more research and in-depth analysis of the subject and present the evidence to support your case.

    If looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...then it's probably a duck. You don't present enough credible evidence to convince me that this is a 'duck' it were.

  • Comment number 87.

    As long as there are "Blacks" in football, there will always be a problem... it's got nothing to do with colour...
    I don't look as Ashley Cole, David James or Rio ferdinand as "Black"; I look at them as English footballers; but now follow the figures, if you must...
    in a squad of 40, 23% (about ten) are "black"
    say, 10% of the squad (four including one "black") go take their coaching certificates, and the best applicant gets a post in the football league... theres a 75% chance he WONT be "black"... nothing racist, purely stats
    but that doesn't mean that 25% (23%) of the managers are going to be "black"; it means that only 25% of the applicants were "black"
    each and every manager's position only has a 23% possibility of being "black"

    The fact that a chairman isn't employing a "black" manager doesn't make them racist; it just means they felt that one of the other 75% of the applicants was better...
    couple this with the fact that many of these "black" players are foreign and leave the UK at the end of their playing career... there is nothing "sinister" about the figures.

  • Comment number 88.

    Matt Slater:
    If you were a 37 year old black player and are confident that you have the credentials and skills to take up management, why wouldn't you be relaxed, or at least motivated by your future in management. Surely most professional footballers have a drive and self belief much greater than us 'mere mortals'. They had the persistence to make it as a professional player because they really wanted it and they succeeded - no simple task. So if they really wanted to be in management I can't see why such a bloke would give up or not even try.
    Maybe, as someone has probably already said, the question should or could be 'why don't black players want to be managers?'

    I'm sorry but I just don't buy it unless you can state times where a black manager was overlooked for a lesser skilled white manager. Otherwise this is conjecture that only serves to stir up a racism argument when one might not exist.

    I will take everything back if you can tell me of times when black managers were overlooked for lesser skilled white guys.

    You wrote: "The suggestion that black people should be able to just hold any successful manager up as a role model regardless of race is naive beyond belief."

    It isn't. Does a white kid taking up martial arts only think "one day, I'm gonna be Chuck Norris". No way!! He thinks "one day I'm gonna be Bruce Lee".

    Ok. If you think this doesn't work because it's a race issue in one direction where a white kid isn't in a minority group so he can have role models in any group (sounds daft but a lot of this argument is daft) then let me tell you about my football club. I play for a social team in Botswana - that's Black people country by the way. As you would expect the majority of the players are black or coloured. Pretty much each and every one idolises players in the premiership and la Liga. The top 'player idols' are Ronaldo, Gerrard, Rooney and Kaka. Many are Liverpool and Man U supports and can't get enough of Ferguson, and to a lesser extent of late, Benitez. Let me just re-iterate that. Black and coloured kids and men idolising white fellas.
    Not naive beyond belief my friend...

  • Comment number 89.

    and #69, Obama aint black. Over here he is referred to as coloured, just like the President of Botswana, like Lewis Hamilton, like Wes Brown, like Rio Ferdinand and plenty of others.
    It is pretty obvious to look at even. Take a picture of Obama and put it next to a picture of a black man, Essien for example. The difference is as obvious as if you put that same picture of Obama next to Rooney.

  • Comment number 90.

    It is the white managers I feel sorry for, not getting enough media attention based on their race...

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 - the78sum I don't know if this is just my view, but I've always found "coloured" a horrendous word, obviously implying whites and the rest! I don't know what the alternative is, but I've just never liked that word.

    I liked the article Matt, and I recognise that you don't need to give us precise stats for the article to be credible, this is a journalistic piece, not an academic paper. What you have done, which I applaud, is raised the topic. Most are terrified to raise this subject, at the risk of being labelled a racist (which, by the way, you clearly are not).

  • Comment number 92.

    Should we not also be concerned about the 23 6 figures? 23 per cent of professional players are black but only 6 per cent of the population, does this not represent a massive exclusion of white children from a career in football?
    An issue that is not being addressed by any so called anti racist campaigns.
    As we clearly have an imbalance here should we be trying to carry that inbalance through to management or should we be working to get more white players into the professional game?

  • Comment number 93.

    A black manager of Manchester united could do for black managers what Barack Obama will do for black politicians.

    yes, nothing. In fact his winning of the peace prize, combined with his failure to implement any meaningful policy in the first 12 months, and the fact that many black voters haven't seen the help he promised, is in danger of setting America back, not moving them forward.

    And Matt - no, I wasn't calling you a racist, i'm just saying that the positive discrimination can create racism, and that parts of your piece suggested you were skirting away from telling the truth in favour of staying PC.

    It is an old topic, and there will come a time when we forget it was discussed, but forcing this kind of issue is the surefire way to spoil stuff. It's only 25 years since England fans were denying a John Barnes goal against Brazil, because he was 'not English'. Today he would be revered as a hero, so we have moved on. Just maybe not fast enough for some.

  • Comment number 94.

    #91 - 0darroch

    Sorry mate, you misunderstand.

    It's not white and then the rest bunched under the heading coloured.

    Over here it is broken into black, white and coloured. Coloured describing people who are of mixed descendants of black and white. People like Obama, Lewis Hamilton and Wes Brown. I know this is still a generalisation as it encompasses any mix of black, white and other races. But to me, it is better, or more accurate than calling anyone who has a hint of black ancestry black.

    Take Obama for example. I think it really disrespectful to Obama's mum to call him black. It's like saying she played no part in who he is. Like her gene contribution counts for nothing.

    Anyway, we are digressing here far too much...

  • Comment number 95.

    Ricardo Johnson - decent point mate - i follow it and i understand and probably agree with what you say and where you are coming from.

    I have to say though that I get quite uncomfortable when faced with the whole "race debate" ... even though i don't consider myself to be in any way "racist" nor do i discriminate, knowingly, on any grounds....

    The sad thing is that sometimes the only way that i feel as a white man i can even sound ligitimate in an argument based on race is to just shut up and let any people who don't classify themselves as white to do the talking... the power of the argument is theirs not mine... does this mean that in discussions about race i am a victim of racism?... i obvioulsy know it doesn't... i'm just playing devils advocate... but it is difficult for me to feel like i can comment (even in a completely neutral way) and not feel like an imposter on the argument.

    ps - the ginger hair example you give, whilst difficult for you to compare to racism - and impossible to compare on a "world history scale", does effect people - i know someone who attempted suicide due to being bullied about hair colour - as far as i am aware there have been no ex-black players kill themselves because they don't have a managers job.... my point?? that just because an issue may seem trivial to you - to others it is literally life and death...

  • Comment number 96.

    83. At 01:07am on 11 Nov 2009, Ricardo Johnson wrote:

    the only reason i didn't complain about your post is because i want to tear it up first.

    europeans (i'm assuming you say that there are no black europeans) can't discuss racism meaningfully? and this isn't racist?

    If qualifcations are paramount to applying for jobs, then what do you say to 12.5% of black coaches who have a UEFA B badge? THE BADGE IS A MINIMUM, NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN JOHN BARNES CONSTANTLY BEING RE-EMPLOYED DESPITE NEVER SUCCEEDING?

    Who determines what constitutes an act of racism? THE VICTIM.

    2) The term "institutional racism" is an insult to my intelligence. As I see it racism has to start within institutions, organisations, and active bodies/associations. These acting bodies use either legislation, or rules/regulations/unwritten codes of practice to actively execute their agenda - be it associated with gender, sexual orientation or race to continue their own "ethos" & "code of ethics"

    Your intelligence? Kept that quiet. The point is, some people have already decided what they will see before they open their eyes. You can look at the worst example of racism, slavery, in two ways. One) Appalling human trade, with both black and white people involved, and guilty (the slaves were sold by other Africans to the whites). Or Two) It has provided opportunities in the long run, and your ancestors suffered to enable (unconciously) their children etc. to live in more prosperous conditions.

    I don't feel bad in the slightest about slavery, it wasn't me, no-one alvie today suffered because of it, and many of the most successful black people in the west wouldn't have existed as we know them without it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, i hope.

  • Comment number 97.

    also, racism based only on skin colour, not in europe? ask the basque people, who have firsthand experience, maybe? or serbian/bosnians?


  • Comment number 98.

    So the logic of this situation is that "racists" are happy to over load teams with black players (far greater than the national average) to maximise their chances at winning. Then a complete turn around when it comes to getting that success as a manager, what utter poppycock. What we are seeing is natural selection in process and why we have so many black players in the higher levels of the game.

    I am surprised someone never tried to shoehorn the lack of Asian origin players into the racial selection criteria?

  • Comment number 99.

    83. At 01:07am on 11 Nov 2009, Ricardo Johnson wrote:

    I think you are being a bit condescending.

    I remember a friend of mine (black friend) said something derogatory towards whites. I looked at him and said "you can't say things like that. It's racist". His reply was "I can't be racist, I'm black". One of the most idiotic things I've ever heard.

    Goes to show that you need intelligence rather than just melanin to talk sense when it comes to racism.

  • Comment number 100.

    Oh dear, Matt, you've really stirred a hornet's nest here. The comments are filled with people tripping over themselves to make racist points while not appearing to be racist. e.g. #28 "The fact that there is even an argument about how many black or white managers there are is racist in itself."

    You are dealing here with people who are prepared to accuse you of racism while at the same time making a racist remark themselves! This is just one of dozens of examples in the comments.

    So if you're going to broach the topic and stir up that crowd, you're going to have to be more honest with your statistics. For example, what proportion of former players under retirement age and living in this country are black? Nowhere near your beloved 23% of the active playing population, I suspect. And how many of that 23% are English? Making a sweeping, dramatic point by comparing apples with oranges is just asking for trouble. You also ignore the fact that only 49 of the managers of professional clubs are from this country. That makes the black population over 6%. Comparing this more honest figure with ex-professional populations rather than active players wouldn't support your case as well, but honesty is essential to dialogue on this topic.

    My own view is that the current small crop of managers are the pioneers, but that is only to be expected given the history. Once one or two achieve decent success and a few more filter into the ranks behind them, this will rapidly become a non-issue.


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