Fast forward to the 21st century and only five of the 91 (5.5%) managers and head coaches present in the four main divisions of England are of Black, Asian or minority origin.
The Premier League and the English Football League have supported players and coaches who have kneeled to support the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks, but this weak statistic leaves both organizations more exposed.
The gestures are going well, but when the efforts are felt, when will the black coaches be able to show their talents from a position of power?
This lack of representation has now prompted the Premier League and EFL to launch a new program to help develop black, Asian and minority ethnic coaches.
The new initiative – which according to the Premier League “aims to increase the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic players who will occupy full-time coaching positions in professional play” – will give six coaches a season a job. 23 months. placement in EFL clubs.
The program will be jointly funded by the Premier League and the Association of Professional Footballers (PFA) and the first six people will begin their internship at the start of the 2020-21 season.
At first glance, the initiative seemed to be a positive step; a step towards eliminating the strong under-representation of black managers and coaches in the first four divisions of English football.
However, Troy Townsend, the head of development for the anti-racism organization Kick It Out, admits being “a little overwhelmed” by the new initiative and fears that a new generation of black players will be overlooked when it comes to to get a job in management. .
Other critics have called the new program simple work experience for adults.
“We’ve already been in this space where we’ve talked about the lack of representation in coaching circles, but I’m not sure what that is about,” Townsend told CNN Sport.
“It looks like there is only one entry level for these coaches,” added Townsend of the new initiative. “Six coaches in 23 months, the best part in two years, it gives me a deal that will only go so far.
“I am looking and wondering why it is only acceptable to have six coaches and why we cannot advance something that is deployed in all leagues and that has a little more impact, so I keep the fire on it . ”
“There will be coaches who will want to go through this process, no doubt, because maybe they are not in the game. But there must be some who watch it and think, ‘I’ve had opportunities at this level and I want to try to be witty and find out what the highest level looks like. “”
Townsend, among others, also wondered why the new initiative is limited to 71 EFL teams and does not include the Premier League.
England’s top tier has its own program – the Premier League Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme (ECAS) which was launched in 2015 – which he says “completes” the new EFL initiative.
Former professional footballer Iffy Onuora, who currently works as a PFA equality coach, admits that he “feels frustration” with program critics, but says that even the best coaches in English football have had to be fired the teeth in the lower leagues.
“If you even look at foreign coaches, headlines like [Pep] Guardiola … certainly [Jurgen] Klopp, who worked in Mainz, they had a lower grounding in the Bundesliga [and La Liga]”, he tells CNN.
“It’s certainly where they get started; you make your mistakes, you build your reputation and you go from there. So realistically, for us, it’s the same thing. You join a club EFL and you’re trying to pick heads through this. “
The problem of under-representation is not limited to coaches and management positions; it is also a problem in management and decision-making positions.
Among the few English footballers are Les Ferdinand, who is the football manager at Queens Park Rangers (one of the clubs the former English international played for), and Burton Albion president Ben Robinson, who oversaw the unlikely rise of the modest club. through football leagues.
While the new scheme may provide a base from which to build, Onuora is aware that this is only part of a wide variety of racing-related problems that English football faces.
“I think this is part of the pipeline increase,” said Onuora. “It doesn’t take away from the other things we have to do. We have to have black faces in the meeting rooms, these are the club makers. This is not an isolated conversation, it has to be part of a plus wide picture.
“You have to have people in the meeting room, you have to encourage the club and the stakeholders to open the doors, [make] transparent decisions. There is the old saying: “You cannot be what you cannot see.”
“If the administrators and CEOs cannot see other administrators or CEOs, or other people around them in their network who are also people of color, then … we have very few Ben Robinson’s in the conference room.”
One of the five black managers currently at the head of a football club is Darren Moore, who has worked at the third level Doncaster Rovers for just under a year.
Moore is a member of the Premier League’s Black Participants Advisory Group – which was launched last year to “bring the views of black, Asian and minority ethnic players and coaches” to the table – and will offer support and expertise to the six participants and the clubs involved in the new program.
Like Onuora, Moore says he understands the frustrations people feel from the outside, but believes that even the announcement of the program is already having a positive effect.
Since its launch, it says its phone and rings with coaches who wish to register or request more information.
“This is a real start and this program is helping out,” Moore told CNN. “It’s a start; six places better than we were yesterday or the day before. For me, if the group, if the system works … then I’m sure more EFL coaches will open up to what we do.
“It’s six places each season. What if we sit in a year and those six places went well, whether it’s double or even triple? It means we started somewhere.
“So, yes, there is going to be frustration. Yes, I have already illustrated that this is not everything and do everything possible to solve the problem, but it is a diagram which must be regarded as positive to the future.”
At the EFL general assembly last June, it was announced that the “Rooney rule” would be officially introduced after an 18-month trial period.
Named after the chairman of the NFL diversity committee, Dan Rooney, he forces clubs to interview at least one black, Asian and ethnic minority candidate for vacant club leadership or operations positions.
However, Townsend believes that the lack of available data – the number of black coaches applying, those who reach the interview stage and are turned down and what the process looks like for them – makes the “ Rooney rule ” of EFL difficult to judge.
Townsend says this lack of information leads to one of the biggest frustrations he faces: people ask him if black coaches even apply for jobs.
“There is a certain ignorance, not only in this game, but in society in general,” he says. “When this question is asked, I chuckle a bit and sort of say to myself,” Well, I can’t keep answering the same questions over and over and over. ”
“I have seen a list of all the black coaches who are qualified, who are capable, who could enter the industry; not just academia and not just EFL, and I hope I can cut your teeth at a high level. There are many other people who have also heard of it.
“So these noises normally come from people who have no appreciation and understanding of coaching circles and they will likely continue to exist, but there is a plethora of coaches who could work in the industry and who have wrong.”
“And maybe we could lose a generation, again, of these good coaches because they just feel that the opportunities are not there for them.”
While Moore accepts the lack of black coaches is unacceptable, he believes the new regime is a first step towards ensuring that this same conversation of under-representation will not take place in the future.
“The numbers are alarming, yes they are, let’s not get away from the fact that there are currently five serving in the game,” said Moore. “What I’m going to tell you now is that there are many, many others from outside.
“We are working very hard to bring the rest of these people into the game. As I said before, there is a lot, a lot of talent [coaches] of the black and Asian community who are outside the game, who must be inside the game. Not only that, but I know individually that there is a thirst and a hunger for them to serve the game.
“The wonderful thing that we are trying to do now is to create platforms where there is more visibility and more opportunities in the professional game. There is more movement in the world and in the country to see what change.”