FA deserve credit for adopting the ’Rooney Rule’ but this is long overdue and only the first step

IF you listen carefully you can just about hear the sound of a glass ceiling being pierced.

The FA, our often maligned guardians of the game have taken the lead by adopting the “Rooney Rule”, and will interview at least one black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) candidate for any future national team vacancies.

The FA took a kicking last year for the shambolic way they handled Eniola Aluko’s complaints about women's coach Mark Sampson.

FA Chief executive Martin Glenn concedes there is still a long way to go to break down the barriers in front of BAME coaches.

He said: “I think the Rooney Rule on its own isn't enough, We are there to set an example.

“I think in talking to people at the Premier League and the FA, I don't see any resistance to it and to be fair the EFL has a Rooney rule in place.”

So praise where it’s due to the FA for taking a lead and at least opening up their recruitment process to cast their net wider.

Now they are looking to provide a pathway for a host of experienced and qualified black coaches who for decades have collectively shrugged their shoulders and wondered what was the point of taking their coaching badges.

But it’s just the start of the process. It was only a few years ago the debate about the lack of BAME coaches could not even get on the Football League AGM agenda.

The FA are hoping to inspire current and future coaches to shake off an understandable scepticism of the current status quo, where less decorated white counterparts have moved ahead of them in the pecking order.

I’ve personally spoken to prominent black players who have retired in the last decade who have become so disillusioned with the process that they have simply given up.

The culture at the top of football clubs has to change, as a former player I’ve suffered at the hands of deep-rooted stereotypes of black footballers.

The nudges and winks suggesting we have an attitude problem, you speak up and you have a chip on your shoulder or even the notion we are not fit to lead organisations.

33 percent of Premier League players at the start of the season were from BAME backgrounds, that has doubled from the percentage 25 years ago.

But still Chris Hughton is the only black manager in the Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Northampton) Keith Curle (Carlisle) and Jack Lester (Chesterfield) are representing black managers outside the top flight.

So that’s five in England's four professional leagues. That’s as high as it has been in living memory, but there’s still a long way to go.

Sol Campbell cited the lack of opportunities of embarking on a managerial career, despite his experience as a player for club and country.

Les Ferdinand, current director of football at QPR, has long been been calling for a change in current culture.

And while there is an appetite for a new approach, back in 2014 the League Managers' Association (LMA) opposed the Rooney Rule, claiming it was “artificial”, a stance the LMA have now changed.

So what is the problem with a more open and transparent coaching recruitment process, what are they afraid of?

The claims of tokenism are redundant, what is wrong with clubs casting their nets further when looking for new employees?

BAME coaches are not asking for a job, they simply want to be part of the process, sit down in front of a club and pitch their ideas of how they can take them forward.

Will the Premier League follow suit?

We all know the candidate when a top fight boss is sacked, some even agree to take over before the imcumbent is fired.

Don’t take my word for it that the current system is heavily skewed against BAME managers.

I took a call from a white football agent a few years ago who simply asked me if football was racist.

He explained how he failed to get his black client a single interview for a managerial gig after a decorated career in the Premier League and several years coaching at the same level.

His eyes were opened to the reality and now the FA’s are. Over to you Premier League, EFL and LMA.

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Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/5303221/fa-deserve-credit-for-adopting-the-rooney-rule-but-this-is-long-overdue-and-only-the-first-step/

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