English football not ready for 'Rooney rule' for black managers

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport

English football is not ready for a so-called 'Rooney rule', says Football Association consultant Brendon Batson.

In American football, clubs must interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate when hiring a coach.

But Batson, who has helped launch a bursary scheme for 49 black and ethnic minority coaches, says improving qualifications is the priority.

"I don't think we have enough with the right qualifications to challenge at the very top," he told BBC Sport.

"So the first step is, can we help and support them to increase their qualifications to challenge for jobs?"

More than 25% of professional players in England are black or from ethnic minorities.

But there are only three black managers at the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs - Norwich's Chris Hughton, Charlton boss Chris Powell and Notts County's Keith Curle.

Although Batson, the former Cambridge and West Brom defender, is in favour of a version of the Rooney rule, which was introduced in 2003 and helped to increase the number of black NFL head coaches from 6% to 22% by 2006, he claims differences in UK employment law mean it would be difficult to implement in the same manner.

However, Professional Footballers' Association coach educator Paul Davis told BBC Sport that the ruling could help the overall process of getting more black and ethnic minority coaches into positions at clubs.

"What happened in America [when the rule was introduced] was that people were going for interviews, not getting that position, but were then being talked about for other positions in the club or later on, so it can snowball that way," he said.

Batson has been a pioneer in setting up a new FA-led bursary programme which has given 49 Level Two coaches an opportunity to boost their qualifications and get placements at professional clubs.

The group, including four females, were addressed by England manager Roy Hodgson at St George's Parkexternal-link and were drawn from 103 applicants.

Batson added: "I would like to see a more level playing field. When you look at the top end and the role models, the numbers don't lie. There seems to be a lack of appetite in appointing black coaches.

"So if we can address that by looking at things that increase the quality of coaches within the black and Asian community when job opportunities present themselves they can apply and hopefully that will filter through. It's a qualification-based industry over here, in America it isn't."

Davis believes a lack of a Rooney rule is hindering top black players going into management and that the legislation is misunderstood.

"The game is missing a lot of talent because people don't feel engaged on the coaching side of it," the former Arsenal midfielder said. "When I speak to players now they say 'I don't see myself getting an opportunity, I'm not going to put myself through six or seven years of training with not even a chance of getting a half-decent job'.

"We [at the PFA] are pushing for the Rooney rule, but I think some people misunderstand it. It's not about getting a job for someone who is not qualified, it's being able to go into an interview position for someone who is qualified and being able to present himself.

"If you are talking about elite clubs, when they lose a manager they know who, more or less, they are after next. But what would help is if they are encouraged to interview people who they may not have done before, then they might think 'that guy is not bad, he's better than I thought he would be'."

Top Stories