Football committed to tackling race issue - Heather Rabbatts

Heather Rabbatts (left) and Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Rabbatts, pictured with Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, believes diversity on the pitch is not matched off it

Football's authorities are committed to tackling diversity in the game for the "first time", says Football Association board member Heather Rabbatts.

There are currently five non-white managers in England's top four leagues.

"For the first time we have a focused commitment from everybody in the game," said Rabbatts on tackling diversity.

"We all know we have a distance to go but I believe that it's absolutely a sign of the commitment that everybody recognises that things have to change."

BME managers in England's top four divisions
Keith CurleCarlisle United
Jimmy Floyd HasselbainkBurton Albion
Chris HughtonBrighton & Hove Albion
Fabio LiveraniLeyton Orient
Chris PowellHuddersfield

The number of black and minority ethnic (BME) managers contrasts starkly with the diversity seen among players, where more than 25% are black.

Professional Footballers' Association chairman Gordon Taylor has previously described a "hidden resistance" to the appointment of black coaches in the professional game.

Taylor criticised Football League chairman Greg Clarke for failing to fulfil a "promise" to discuss the 'Rooney Rule', which is used in American football, at the organisation's AGM in 2013.

The Rooney Rule 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.

But Rabbatts now believes there is a will from the "the leagues, the clubs, the PFA, the managers' association and the FA to say that we, by our collective efforts, can change the dial in terms of inclusion and challenging discrimination".

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, she added: "We have so much diversity on the field of play and that demonstrates the lack of that diversity elsewhere in the game.

"There is a scheme that the Premier League has now introduced which will give bursaries and support to develop black coaches.

"We at the FA are doing something similar."