Greg Clarke: Football League chief rejects 'black managers' criticism

Garth Crooks
"Black footballers are supposed to be part of the structure of the game," said Garth Crooks.

Football League chairman Greg Clarke says the "shrill voices of the vested interests" will not force him to step down over the issue of black managers' under-representation in football.

Clarke was responding to former player Garth Crooks who said he should "consider his position" following claims the matter was ignored at the League's 2013 annual general meeting.

"There's not a chance the shrill voices of the vested interests will stop me continuing to campaign for a better lot for our managers," he told BBC Sport.

However, Crooks, a trustee of the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign, responded by stating Clarke had "bottled it" over the Football League not addressing the subject of black managers.

"We were given assurances that that debate would start at the AGM, so imagine the disappointment. Instead of Mr Clarke explaining to us why is it hasn't occurred, he's making this lily-livered statement," Crooks told BBC Radio 5 live.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said Clarke did not bring up the 'Rooney Rule' at the League's AGM, having "promised" to do so. The rule has been credited with an increase in black coaches in the NFL.

The 'Rooney Rule'
The 'Rooney Rule' was established in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the NFL's diversity committee. It requires NFL teams to interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operation opportunities that become available, as part of a transparent and open recruitment process

Clarke said he did intend to raise the Rooney Rule at the 2013 AGM and propose a trial within one division. But he explained that the club director who was going to put forward the proposal lost his seat on the League's board when his club were relegated.

"If he hadn't been relegated we would have gone into that meeting and pitched the idea. I'm continuing to try to gain traction," he added.

"The main problem I have is that if you put your money and your reputation into a football club, largely you do not want to be fettered in who you can hire. I say this is not fettering you, this is merely increasing choice. But that debate is still running within the league."

Crooks had initially responded to Taylor's claims, before Clarke gave his reaction.

The former Stoke and Tottenham forward said: "Black footballers are supposed to be part of the structure of the game, but how can that be true if the game itself is not even prepared to acknowledge their existence at the highest level?

"Let's be clear here, what we are actually talking about is giving a player an interview."

BBC Radio 5 live sports news corrspondent Richard Conway
"This row demonstrates the difficulties and frustrations around the Rooney Rule debate. When I put Garth Crooks' complaints to Greg Clarke, he passionately defended his efforts to promote the chances of black managers in the Football League."However he believes there is still some way to go before club owners accept the Rooney Rule is about increasing their choices when selecting a new manager and not about forcing them to accept a candidate against their wishes."In the meantime, many black and minority ethnic coaches are falling out of the game or choosing to pursue jobs overseas. What Clarke and Crooks do agree on is that it is a situation which urgently needs to change."

Taylor told BBC Sport that there was a "hidden resistance" preventing black managers getting jobs. Chris Powell at Huddersfield and Carlisle's Keith Curle are the only black managers employed within the 92 clubs of the Premier League and Football League.

Crooks's fellow ex-professional and BBC pundit Jason Roberts also responded to Taylor's interview, stating there was an "open resistance" and adding that black managers were finding it harder than ever to get a job in football.

Clarke is eager to change this, but said it might be difficult to enforce his objectives.

"I've fought behind the scenes to try to find a way to improve the lot for black managers in our game," he added.

"Why, with 72 clubs [in the Football League] and 30% black players have we only got two managers?

"We've got to get to the bottom of that, and we've got to fix it and step up to the plate of being a more just and equitable place to work. But the solution to that needs a consensus building around it and that's why I'm working behind the scenes.

"If I just jump up and down and say, 'we must do this', you know these are 72 independent clubs. They're going to say, 'well, I might disagree with that, I might not think that works, I don't want people telling me' who to hire and who not to hire'.

"So I have to build a consensus for change, which is what I'm trying to do."

Facts and figures
The PFA says about 18% of players on their coaching courses are black or from other ethnic minorities
There are 192 Uefa Pro Licence owners in England, and 14 of those are black coaches
About 25% of players in the professional game are non-white
There were five black managers in English professional football last season but, of Chris Hughton, Chris Powell, Paul Ince, Chris Kiwomya and Edgar Davids, only Powell now has a job

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