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It’s Time to Change the Face of UK Football: More Diversity Needed At All Levels

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There are 92 professional football clubs in the UK and around 25% of the players within those teams are black. Despite the fact that the number of black players has continued to rise there are still only two black managers: Chris Powell of Charlton Athletic and Chris Hughton of Birmingham City. To say this is disproportionate is an understatement. This has led to mounting pressure being put on the FA from various angles to change the face of football.

The lack of non-white faces in the football boardroom is contributed to by a lack of recognition and progression opportunities for grass roots coaches from Afro-Caribbean, Asian and other backgrounds. Many of these individuals dedicate years of time and energies into working with youth from inner city areas. A significant number of these players are from African and Caribbean backgrounds and desperately in need of positive male role models. “They need people who understand their backgrounds and the issues they face as young black men”. These are the words of Andrew Palmer, a coach from Nottingham and scout for Leicester City FC. Despite having worked successfully with many young people for over 15 years as a coach, scout and mentor. Andrew adds, “It is impossible for me to progress within the FA. I don’t know if it’s because I am black or because I’m not a professional player, probably a combination of both.”

Andrew is testament to the fact that given the current cultures that exist within football it is tough for black coaches of all levels to secure positions in the boardroom regardless of how much knowledge they have of the game, how many years they have dedicated to coaching or how effective they have been. Of this Andrew says, “It is not a merit based profession, it’s about who you know and having a face that is favoured by the media.” Coaches like Andrew have uniquely valuable connections with their communities and invaluable relationships with the young players they coach, scout and mentor. Yet they are overlooked for top positions. This leaves the FA suspected of not only racism but also extreme elitism.

There are numerous admirable professional players that may inspire young people from a range of backgrounds. However, it has been shown through studies that young black men need role models that they can relate to in order to be motivated to succeed and navigate their way through challenges in their personal lives and professional careers.

A lack of black men in managerial positions at all levels within football leaves players without such role models and suggests that whilst they may be valuable as players, men who are not white have no value as decision makers or leaders. In addition to this, denying community coaches the opportunity to progress into positions within the FA in an attempt to reserve such position for professional players leaves the association lacking the diversity needed to make it adequately representative of the whole fan base.

The continued dedication and support of fans of UK football determine its continued success. In order to maintain football’s appeal to the growing diverse population, the FA must consider how to make the game representative at all levels.

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  1. broom_wagon

    November 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I’ll bet Brazil has black coaches in their top flight league and Pele’s great but of the coaches we have seen managing their national team, I don’t think any of them have been black. I’d think too, France might have some somewhere in their leagues.

  2. Matthew

    November 1, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Fair enough. I can respect you on that. I may disagree with you on this topic but I can respect you being honest. I like seeing people succeed in life and having chances but just disagree in how that can be achieved. To be honest my character flaw is butting head, more so if politics gets involved. Sorry you don’t like my stories since I do try my best with them.

  3. Matthew Barnette

    November 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    If you don’t like the comments or the stories no one is forcing you to comment. Judging by the comments on here you spend most of your time on the computer. I am wondering when you will present a story on here. I would love to read one of your stories. The truth of the matter I was just voicing my thoughts and if you don’t like it that is your problem. You nothing about my politics so how can you make such a statement.Teaching may not be your cup of tea but I enjoy it. If you want to be taken serious don’t reduce yourself to making personal attacks it is the action of person who has nothing intelligent to say.

    • trickybrkn

      November 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      not a matter of LIKING… its a matter of fact. fact is 2 managers in 94 clubs.

      and I wasn’t making a personal attack, I was commenting on your words.

      and I comment on here at what I think important or am interested. I am concerned about the lack of opportunity of blacks in football in England. Its something my friends actually talk about and debate as to why. And yes it has come down to us blaming Paul Ince in a joking manner. But to ask someone what pure freedom is, after what they wrote is down to your politics. And yes… I’ll admit I sometimes reduce based on ideology. Based on what team you support, and yeah I have a character flaw that in which I am always right…. And I don’t dislike you personally. I just like people who talk crap like this is an argument from the 60’s… Matt, how many players played in the top level of football when England won the world cup in 1966?

      • broom_wagon

        November 1, 2011 at 10:01 pm

        Remember, that guy Balotelli came here because he ran into hassles back in Italy, I read Soccerway, 2-3 years ago, he was always in the news about getting upset at the crowds in Italy…. and largely it was the Juventus crowd and at least in part, they were probably trying to wind him up but they’d chant stuff at him like “you’ll never play on the Italy team”, the Azzurri,

        And Tricky, if you have a good black coach, he will be hired, John Barnes ran Jamaica for awhile, I guess it didn’t work out, it’s not easy to manage a national team. I do recognize though that if a coach is to get a chance, well, it’s got to be open from the grass roots, but …

        A lot of times, it is a former player, Barnes, Paul Ince, some coaches have a knack, we saw Keano, Roy Keane was a successful coach for a spell at Sunderland but the poor guy ran into trouble. I mentioned the Italians earlier, 3 of the 4 got sacked, all except Mancini and in hindsight, maybe Zola and Ancelotti should not have been fired. Now Chelsea has this real young guy, Portuguese, Villas Boas so we will see. I think they should have kept Ancelotti, anyway, that’s besides the point.

        7 Scottish coaches in the PL, 5 English, 1 Irish, 1 Welsh, 1 Northern Ireland…

        1 each from France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal

        And you want to talk about Paul Ince?? The people are frigging incensed about this Kean fellow they have Allardyce is a great coach, I’ve always liked him, Blackburn sacked him. But it is up in the air if Hughton should have been sacked, Newcastle indeed is playing well right now under Pardew, difficult to argue with that but Hughton and Birmingham are doing well to and Brum has to play it’s European schedule as well.

        Like I said, a few years ago, you only even had a few English managers in the PL, Allardyce, Redknapp, Hodgson, good thing there numbers are growing, that’s one reason England 3 Lions has had 2 foreign coaches in the past decade… but that’s a whole different scenario as well, McClaren was hired, it’s a tough job, England coach.

      • broom_wagon

        November 1, 2011 at 11:02 pm

        Tricky, when you say it like that, I agree, 94 clubs or whatever number it is, should have equality. I know for the likes of Roy Keane, John Barnes, the former Arsenal Player? Tony Adams, these are players who try to become managers so they get their badges, that is they study for it and obtain these to become coaches. I’ve been following Swindon Town some this year, of course, Paolo Di Canio, West Ham standout is managing them, they got off to a slow start but have now really picked things up, I guess, he must have gotten his badges to become a manager. It’s a tough business but they are paid very handsomely for it.

        Riijkgaard, right? Or Gullitt, one of them managed Liverpool I think. I guess you could call them black. I didn’t follow football as much back then, I just know they are both Dutch so in a way foreigners and were on that Netherlands team at the same time.

  4. Trickybrkn

    November 1, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Well Prof, then why where you Asking what a true democracy is…

    It was pretty clear to me what he was saying, I have a hard time believing you teach at the college level after reading your ill researched stories on here… And now to find out you have the politics of Rand explains a lot, but still. You teach History? My goodness… You Teach? Wow.

    Just wow.

  5. UpTheIrons

    November 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Right, and then, where will it end? You then have to have Asians, Gays, etc. should all be given a chance as much.

  6. A Palmer

    November 1, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Make no mistake, the point here is not that black coaches or indeed any coaches should be given jobs simply because they are black. The point is they should like every other candidate be given a fair chance to earn positions based on merit. There is a lot of inadvertent discrimination within organisations that for their own interests wish to keep certain groups of people out. This is not equality and should not be allowed. For many reasons black men are often one of these groups. rules such as the Rooney Rule help to start a cycle of change. They don’t solve everything but they help.

    • Broom_Wagon

      November 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      So, when foreigners like Dimatteo was hired at West Brom, Mancini hired at Man City, Zola hired at West Ham, Ancelotti at Chelsea, these organisations have an innate preference for these Italian men? And would pass over others?? Sounds good but not grounded in the truth.

  7. Matthew

    October 31, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    This idea that minorities can’t be successful without some kind of intervention whether government or something else is a joke. In the United States we have a black president, black governors, mayors, business leaders and so on. Furthermore this has been done because we have rejected affirmative action. People need to stop whining and complain and just get on with things. No one said life was ever easy.

    • trickybrkn

      November 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      Well for a Prof of History you sure seem to miss a lot. If you will indulge me to speak my politics… Sure we have a bi-racial President. But from the second he was elected there was the ‘talk’ that he was not born here. That he was somehow not one of ‘us’. a President that from the second he was elected the other side had one goal to make sure he was one term…. And lets talk about you have clever poll taxes being brought back with new ID laws, and voter purges… aimed at restricting those that are the least empowered. Then you have more black men in prison then in college.
      Yeah no one said life was easy, but the way things are moving, as we forget who WE are. the more we lose.
      We lose a working class to poverty. We lose generation of children who are taught to pass tests not to critically think. WE THE PEOPLE lose, lose in a system rigged to make sure that rich get richer and the rest remain in debt or uneducated, enslaved in prison or underemployed.

      As for football, you have a system where you might have black coach or even a 1st team coach, but few raise up… And when they do get a big job, history shows they have a short hook.

      and BY THE WAY. no one is saying here or anywhere to hire a black person over a white person who is more qualified. They are saying the system is broken, and they need to encourage and support minorities to get to the point where maybe someday this issue is not an issue. but today-numbers don’t lie.


  8. IanCransonsKnees

    October 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Stoke had a black manager once, before you lot even took any notice of us because we weren’t in the Premier League.

    He was sacked beacause he was sh*t, not because he was black. For those of you that don’t know who it was have a look at the link and dare tell me his sacking was a race issue.

    I have nothing against him and to be honest I was desperate for him to become our manager at the time we took him on. Sometimes it’s just down to sheer bloody luck. But if you look into his managerial history look at what happened when he was sacked by Bradford before joining Stoke.

  9. Pete

    October 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    The situation with the South African cricket team is interesting, they now have a rule that there must be at least 4 black people in the team whether they are better players than whites. This often means that white south africans miss out not because they aren’t good enough but because of this rule.
    And there I was thinking equal rights was the aim, not rights that favour one race. is sport not a meritocracy where the best get to play? Doesn’t seem so now. Equal rights really mean rights in favour of minorities.
    Meritocracy has gone out of the window.

    • EDub

      October 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      SA is a special case … let’s not forget that, until 1994, South Africa was under apartheid, STATE MANDATED SEGREGATION. As a result, extreme rules (such as the one you mentioned) were put into place.

      • Pete

        October 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm

        Yes I am well aware of the Apartheid rules of the 1990’s and before and I was all for getting rid of it so everyone in that country would have equal rights. EQUAL being the key word. I don’t want to one rule that favours one race thrown out so it can be replaced by another that favours the other race.

  10. Pete

    October 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    The UK as a whole has a 5% black population. I think black people are more than represented in the Prem. As for P Ince, he was doing a crap job and managers doing a crap job get sacked. They aren’t going to keep him on just because he is black, this is about equal rights, not about rights in favour of black people.

    • brn442

      October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      “I think black people are more than represented in the Prem.” Really Pete? Do you think there are too many female referees as well?

      • Pete

        October 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm

        Everything needs to be looked at in proportion. How many men compared to women watch, play, or are even interested in football compared to men. In England probably 500 – 1 going off every man and women i know. Therefore it makes sense that most of the people involved in the game are men.
        If a women is interested enough to be bothered getting the qualifications and putting the time in to get to be a ref in the prem then I certainly don’t have a problem with them doing it.
        Providing they are up to standard and are fit enough then fine. I certainly don’t expect them to get special treatment because they are a woman, if they are going to do the job they need to be able to do it to the same standard as a man would and not be treated any better or any worse.

  11. brn442

    October 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I don’t like to throw the “R” card around but for you guys who say “clubs simply hire the best guy regardless” are simply naive. They said that about black players 30 years ago too.

    • Oscar

      October 31, 2011 at 9:55 am

      Maybe you ought to take your crusade to the National Teams

      • Broom_Wagon

        October 31, 2011 at 9:56 am

        Maybe you ought to take your crusade to the Nation

      • Broom_Wagon

        October 31, 2011 at 9:57 am

        Maybe you ought to take your crusade to the National Teams of Ghana and Ivory Coast who don’t hire a black to run their own country’s teams and scream racism. Hey, has anyone seen how Nigeria with their home grown coach of Siasia did not make the Cup of African Nations and he got sacked.

        • trickybrkn

          October 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

          That’s just ignorant. Coaches are imported because of the level of play in the home countries you refer to,,,

          Do the best English players flock overseas? or is that rather rare? Do the best players from the Ghana National Team play in the Ghana Premier League? and what is really wrong about your suggestion is that is that it is easy for a white person to walk into an African club manager’s job, would any English club hire an African, cause they don’t even hire persons of color from their own country.

          Its a culture issue.

          wake up and stop with the red herrings/

          • Matthew

            October 31, 2011 at 10:11 pm

            Sorry, you are on the losing end of the argument. The world is moving past your 1960’s and 1970s dogma.

  12. audrey

    October 31, 2011 at 8:05 am

    hahaha knee jerk reaction some people dont have families ask the millions of orphans and those that families have been lost in tragedies peole like Andrew are an inspiration that is why he is being considered for Olympic torch bearer.

    also take a look at this!

    funny how people think yes it would be nice if people where picked on merit but that does not happen. just ask the person who can do a job better than the person who cant but with more qualifications. Some of the most successfull people on the planet do not ie success as in monetary do not have a qualification.

    • Matthew

      October 31, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Sorry to say but social engineering doesn’t work. Look at the socialist movements throughout history trying to create utopian societies. Life isn’t fair and no government on earth can change that. So, your saying being an orphan means you don’t have a chance in life? Some of the most successful people I know came from nothing.

      • Trickybrkn

        November 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

        Listen Ayn Rand…. This is about FOOTBALL, go to the new republic if you wanna debase socialist societies.

        And btw, you know what else doesn’t work in football… The free market.


        • Matthew Barnette

          November 1, 2011 at 8:01 pm

          Sports are a part of society and reflect our societies, so I think it’s fair to make the comparison. Just to let you know I am not a fan of Ayn Rand or the New Republic.

  13. Broom_Wagon

    October 31, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Bringing up Chris Hughton is an interesting example in that he is Irish too, we know there have been Irish managers in England with the likes of Roy Keane or currently with Mick McCarthy. Some may really know the history and maybe it was never a big deal but I wonder if there was ever a time when it was said, “you know, there are many Irish players in these leagues, there ought to be an Irish coach!”. Just food for thought.

    • trickybrkn

      October 31, 2011 at 7:21 am

      So your argument is that race is the same as nationality?

      yeah don’t buy your food for thought.

      • broom_wagon

        October 31, 2011 at 9:41 am

        If you don’t buy it, I guess you can’t cope that other people have been discriminated against. People griped a few years ago, there were almost no English managers in the PL and now, some people want PL teams to hire blacks as Managers?

        • broom_wagon

          October 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

          Hire blacks as managers only because they are black??

          • trickybrkn

            October 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm

            You seem to have missed the point…

            read the first bit of this again…
            “There are 92 professional football clubs in the UK and around 25% of the players within those teams are black. Despite the fact that the number of black players has continued to rise there are still only two black managers: Chris Powell of Charlton Athletic and Chris Hughton of Birmingham City. ”

            So in this world you live in, there are only TWO persons of color who are qualified to manage a League squad. You except me to believe that in all of England, there are two qualified black men. Cause THAT is what you are saying with your comments.

            I took it further and suggested that even IF you get the big job, you are instantly under pressure. And maybe that’s why many turn away from it… regardless, its a cultural issue. You don’t have that vast of an inequity and just say, well blacks will be hired when they are qualified. Its dishonest and just wrong.

  14. jjerg

    October 31, 2011 at 1:47 am

    It amazes me that the people who don’t suffer from this type of discrimination are the loudest to shout that it doest exist. A woman can’t claim a kick in the jewels doesn’t hurt just like a man can’t state the monthly visit from Flo is nothing. Its a fact that non whites are disproportionately left out in all societies that whites are part of. The English FA is just one of many examples. Look at the S African cricket team, any US pro or collegiate football or basketball team management, and my favorite, the Namibian rugby team. There are political parties across the white world that campaign on the supremacy of the European race over all the rest. Look what happens in Eastern Europe whenever an African steps on the pitch. To deny the existence of ‘racial nepotism’ is just plain ignorant. Is it done with the explicit intent to keep a certain race out, not always, probably not even a majority of the time but it just shows that there is that social ceiling. This has nothing to do with the ‘desire to win’ or appointing the best guy out there because we all know these board members are not the best evaluators of talent. They are appointed for their apparent skill to make money.
    Unless there are admittedly flawed steps taken to move past this, it will continue. We have a long way to go to get true democracy in this world and if football can try to force some it down our throats, I’ll open wide and swallow. Ive gagged enough on the other medicine forced down my throat.

    • Reed

      October 31, 2011 at 3:14 am

      That happens every time an African steps on a pitch in Eastern Europe? Gee, maybe you can tell us something about bigotry.

      • trickybrkn

        October 31, 2011 at 7:12 am

        Seems like he laid out a nice foundation of institutional racism… so what is your problem? that he told the truth?

        • Broom_Wagon

          October 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

          So Institutional Racism is fans yelling at someone on a pitch? LOL

          • trickybrkn

            October 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

            ABSOLUTELY… But I was referring to JJerg’s comment and his foundation that the system is broken,

    • Matthew

      October 31, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      What is true democracy? I have never heard that term. So, you like being force what to do and think by the government or other institutions? There are some truly lovely countries in the world that practice that fine art.

      • Trickybrkn

        November 1, 2011 at 9:33 am

        True democracy is a direct democracy. Where every voice is equal. As a person living in America you might be aware that we aspired to ‘true’ democracy but chose a representative model. You see the founding fathers worried that slim majorities would force their will on the minority. It was one of the most debated issues in the founding of our Republic.

        • Matthew Barnette

          November 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm

          I live in the United States and I am an American. Plus, I teach college level history and i am well aware what the founding fathers had in mind. I am well aware what the founders want since I am teaching course on Early American history as well as Ancient Greek history where Athens had direct democracy. As a nation the founders never aspired to direct democracy that would have terrified the likes of Jefferson and Adams in having the wrong people to have a say in society. So, I know all the positives and negatives of direct democracy. Sorry but I don’t need a history lesson.

  15. Matthew

    October 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I am afraid this is an old argument and knee jerk response that seems to appear every time there is an accusation of racism. Besides John Terry hasn’t be found guilty of anything yet. Clubs or teams will hire individuals they see as winners regardless of race. In this competitive economy it is all about merit and your success record. Clubs want to win and that is all they care about. Besides young people should be looking to their family for role models.

    • C

      October 31, 2011 at 3:17 am

      Some people don’t hAve a family knee jerk you will find that

      • Matthew

        October 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm


    • trickybrkn

      October 31, 2011 at 7:07 am

      have you watched the video of Terry? Chelsea and the English FA should be ashamed of themselves.
      and NO there is history I have already spoken about with managers of color.

    • trickybrkn

      October 31, 2011 at 7:34 am

      I still can’t get my head around this… You wander off into some role model argument after a free market rant about how teams will select the proper managers based on need.

      after calling this an OLD argument… by old you mean three years since the FA formed a committee to look into the lack of black managers …. and it came to what?

      the only knee jerk reaction without any consideration of the state of things, was yours…

      • Matthew

        October 31, 2011 at 8:05 pm

        Yes, it is an old argument going back to the 1960s with the failed idea of affirmative action. It just doesn’t work. Hiring people based on skin colour just creates more problems. I have seen the result of this practice in my profession and all it does is create a mess. You hire the person based on merit unless you want to buy the old and worn out liberal idea we need to makeup for past mistakes. Let the market sort itself out.

        • trickybrkn

          November 1, 2011 at 7:41 am

          I didn’t know you where an English footballer? I won’t even get into why affirmative action works in the workplace, but I will say that in football, the topic at hand, that when you jump to a conclusion that this is because John Terry called Anton a “F_______ Black C___”, that you miss the point. A point that is laid out in the FIRST paragraph.
          and BTW diversity isn’t about making up for past mistakes. Its about having a reflection of the real world. Its about culture, its about having the best and brightest. In football when you have 25% of your workforce marginalized and kept out of management, then you are in fact missing out on the best. You have to believe that unless you think that there is something inherently missing in a certain race of people. I’d give you the fact that 5 to 10% could be given for swings in waves of hiring waves etc… but 2% isn’t even in line with the population of England. So you can inject your personal politics into this all you like, but sadly you are just off base. and frankly just ignorant.

  16. CTBlues

    October 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Best person should get the job their color doesn’t matter. The NFL has the Rooney Rule which is good but I think its mostly just for show they are going to hire who they want to hire.

  17. Flyvanescence

    October 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Not sure about the FA, but as far as teams hiring managers, their color has nothing to do it. They r going to hire tge most competent person to manage the team. They arent gonna hire someone over someone less competent because they are black or white.

    • trickybrkn

      October 31, 2011 at 7:05 am

      You sure about that? Take the case of Paul Ince. After a world class career he took on the top job at acclesfield Town. Then switched to MK Dons where he was a huge success. Blackburn took notice, and hired him away.He became the first black manager in the PL. 177 days latter he was sacked. Fans chanted for his head months before the axe came, and there where whispers that a white manager would have lasted longer even in the very multicultural Blackburn. Since he has flamed out again at MK Dons and Notts County. He is presently not managing.

      Then consider the case of John Barnes, the “England” man took over the Celtic hot seat with King Kenny Dalglish as Director of Football. Fans called for his head as Tabloids called Celtic horrid, Barnes won over 2/3 of his 29 matches while in charge. Barnes was sacked and King Ken took over. Barnes found work as Jamaica manager for a brief time and then lasted 12 matches with Tranmere .

      Where these managers over their head, or given no wiggle room. I’m not going to make that call, but it is odd that managers of color seem to have a very short shelf life.

      • Pete

        October 31, 2011 at 11:51 am

        I think Paul Ince was sacked at Blackburn because he was doing a crap job and they were near the bottom of the table. If it was a matter of colour, he wouldn’t have got hired in the first place.

        • trickybrkn

          October 31, 2011 at 7:49 pm

          point being, he was fired very very quickly.

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