Black coaches 'held back in Scotland', say Latapy and Harper

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland
Russell Latapy with Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes
Russell Latapy was assistant to John Hughes at Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Two black former Scottish top-flight footballers claim the colour of their skin is holding them back from making the transition to management.

Russell Latapy and Kevin Harper, who both played for Hibernian, say the lack of diversity in Scottish dugouts proves their point.

Both say they have applied for numerous coaching jobs without success.

Scotland's football governing bodies and the managers' union all say they work to promote diversity.

Former England and Liverpool winger John Barnes remains the only black man to have managed in Scotland, having been in charge of Celtic for a short spell in the late 1990s.

Latapy, who was born in Trinidad and managed his national side, has been a coach at Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Falkirk but says the path to management in the country is proving trickier.

John Barnes in his time as Celtic manager
John Barnes had an unsuccessful spell as manager of Celtic

"For whatever reason, young black managers are not being afforded the same opportunities as young white managers," said the 47-year-old.

"As players, we play alongside each other and all we're asking for is the same opportunity.

"Since John Barnes, there hasn't been another black manager, but I have to say this: I don't want a job because of the colour of my skin. I want a job based on what the chairman thinks I can bring to that football club."

Harper, who is currently doing his A Licence coaching training, says he feels the same way.

"I've applied for at least 10 jobs in Scotland and I've had two responses," revealed the 40-year-old.

"I'm new into it but to only get two responses and not even get an interview, I think there's a real issue."

The latest Scottish government statistics show that around 4% of the population is described as non-white. Of the 10,000 registered Scottish FA coaches, just under 6% fall into that category.

Former Scotland Under-21 forward Harper, though, believes the issue is at a higher level.

Kevin Harper in action for Dunfermline Athletic
Kevin Harper finished his senior career with Dunfermline Athletic after a long career in England

"There might be 6% going through the coaching system, but there is 0% at the clubs," he said. "There is definitely an issue for sure."

The head of the Scottish Coaches' and Managers' Association, Alex Smith, says he is surprised by the claims.

"We don't recognise this as a problem," he said. "Colour, creed or sexual orientation is never a consideration when clubs appoint coaches or managers. The only consideration is ability."

The Scottish Professional Football League added: "We are absolutely confident that all of our member clubs judge each management and coaching application on its individual merit and appoint only the best candidates, regardless of the colour of their skin.

"All of our member clubs fully support the Show Racism The Red Card campaign and undertake an abundance of work promoting diversity in their communities."