The SPTT’s Michael Johnson on our latest BAME football coaches report

The Sports People’s Think Tank (SPTT) has renewed their call for the football authorities to up their efforts in addressing the continued under representation of BAME coaches within professional English football. Now, in our latest column, board member Michael Johnson gives his perspective on the concerning issue.

In the third installment of Dr. Steven Bradbury’s reports the figures on show continue to disappoint. Over the last few years of our campaigning the body of statistics around this issue have not shown any significant progress.

There are encouraging signs, such as the FA’s mentoring program and the EFL recruitment code, but little to no overall change in the numbers.


What’s more, whilst our main focus has been on BAME players and managers, similar problems are apparent within the games governance. Less than 1% of all board and senior administration positions are currently held by BAME employees, this simply has to change.

The FTSE’s top 100 companies faced similar problems in regards to a disproportionate lack of women in boardrooms. In response, a report from Lord David set an initial target of 25%. Five years later, this target has now been met and I feel a similar approach to our problems in football would be a good start- setting a clear target to give everyone a unified goal.

BAME people represent just 4.1% of senior coaching positions in the game, yet make up approximately 14% of the national population and an estimated 25% of the countries professional players. That cannot be right.sptt-report-2

To me a huge factor influencing these figures is the language that’s deployed in regularly profiling black players in comparison to their white colleagues. There still too often exists a stereotypical analogy of black players only being useful on the wing to exploit their pace, or upfront or at centre-half due to their natural strength. This profiling often creates a misconception within the decision makers about what roles these players are capable of fulfilling off the pitch once their playing career is done.

I hope one day, by continuing this work, black people who are managers are seen as exactly that, not a ‘black manager’. That phrase has a clear stigma attached- when players like Anthony Martial, Christian Benteke and Yaya Toure sign for a different club you just hear they’re good signing, not that the club have signed a ‘black’ player.

Everyone in football has to work hard to do their bit to change this and ensure the same opportunities for everyone. Positive action like the Rooney Rule can help to create this climate of change, but so can all of us in football and society through our everyday actions.

We need a fair chance for all- who can disagree with that?

Michael Johnson speaking to Michael McCann