Black Managers in Football

This is something I’ve got quite a strong opinion on, so despite it being non-County related content I thought I’d talk about it anyway. BME (black & minority ethnic) coaching levels in football is something that has been spoken about a lot in the media recently and causes quite a split in opinion. Half the people seem to think there’s nothing wrong and the other half believe the opposite. County fans can relate, Carlton Palmer took over the reigns at Edgeley Park over a decade ago with disastrous consequences, and there will be many arguing that Palmer was a sh*t manager regardless of colour. 

But there have been a number of high profile (black) ex players and managers arguing that something further is amiss, John Barnes mentioned that it is tricky for black managers to get more than 1 job, whereas their white counterparts can get job after job despite failing in more than one of them. There are exceptions to the rule, Paul Ince was re-employed at 3 different clubs after his failure at MK Dons, Keith Alexander managed a number of different clubs before his death in 2010. Despite this, the numbers of black managers and coaches in the football league is shocking when compared with the amount of BME players in the game. From 552 coaching positions in the football league, only 19 are filled by BME coaches (just over 3%). When you compare this to he number of BME players in the game (25%+), it’s quite an appalling statistic. Even when comparing this figure to the amount of BME individuals who have completed their coaching badges, the numbers still don’t add up. 

So what’s the reason for it? Is there something wrong with the game here, or are a lot of people getting worked up over nothing? I personally think there is something amiss, and it probably comes down to a number of different factors rather than one single point. The first, and potentially most damaging, is the conscious and unconscious racial bias that some individuals may hold. Key power brokers in the game probably still hold misplaced assumptions on the behaviours and competencies of black managers. Ron Noades, a former Crystal Palace manager and chairman, noted in an interview once that black players were good for flair, but you needed white players to make sure that the team had common sense and brains. With people like this making key decisions at the top of the game, is it a wonder that some black would-be managers are annoyed? Whilst opinions such as these would never be expressed out loud anymore, there is no doubt a continued existence of these stereotypes in people’s minds. There are certainly other reasons which may contribute to the figures, a lack of role models and negative experiences may put some potential managers off the job. In what is an already tricky profession, why put up with something which makes it even more tough? A lack of networks and unintentional bias by the media also could contribute (you’ll always see the media and FA tip a white ex player for a managers job after their career has finished (Steven Gerrard, Gary Neville and even David Beckham have all been tipped for a role, but players like Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand are never mentioned). 

What can be done about it? Should anything be done about it? People are split on this, many believe the Rooney Rule (black manager has to be interviewed) is unnecessary and unfair, whilst others believe it is the very least that should be done and that the FA and football clubs should be educated on the problems. Whatever you think, I’m keen to hear your views on it as I know it’ said topic which always sparks a serious debate. 

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