SPTT call for greater urgency from football family

By Michael McCann
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The Sports People’s Think Tank (SPTT) attended the All Party Parliamentary Football Group meeting at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, concerning the lack of black and ethnic minority (BME) coaches in football.

Representatives from the Premier League, Football League, Football Association and League Managers Association and multiple Members of Parliament also attended, with Clive Betts MP chairing.

A report by Dr Steven Bradbury from Loughborough University, on behalf of the Sports People’s Think Tank in association with the FARE network, showed that BME people in senior coaching positions rose to just 23 out of 552 this year, up marginally from 19 last year.

If that 0.8% annual rate of increase of BME representation in senior coaching positions continued it would take a further 31 years to achieve parity of representation between percentage of BME managers and players in football.

This was the second of five proposed annual reviews regarding levels of BME coach representation to be undertaken from September 2014 to September 2018.

SPTT founding member Jason Roberts says action is needed to raise the numbers of BME coaches but welcomed the meeting as a chance to begin instigating changes.

“I hope this is another step in the right direction and it was positive to have the governing bodies here. I think the discussions were open and some difficult questions were asked.

“We just hope that the momentum will continue from this into the nuances of what is being done with the various programs.

“I was particularly encouraged by the Football Leagues pilot of a form of the Rooney rule. We believe this will be significant step forward towards equality in football.

“Dr Bradbury’s findings were particularly concerning – 23 BME coaches out of 552 is unacceptable. We are disappointed and we need positive action to significantly change the situation.”

Cardiff City under 21 coach and fellow SPTT founding member Michael Johnson also welcomed the Football League’s move towards a version of the Rooney rule, and hopes this could be the start of greater change.

“The governing bodies presented ideas they are looking to implement and over the next 12 months hopefully it will make greater strides towards making coaching a better place to work for the BME community.

“We will be back here in 12 months to find out exactly where they are with the things they have spoken about today.

“I found it encouraging that the Football League have decided to look at a version of the Rooney rule – although I’m interested to know exactly what it looks like.

“Hopefully we will see others gravitate towards the Rooney rule.”

The report also outlined the levels of representation of BME coaches undertaking coach education qualifications, with Dr Bradbury considering the meeting important for facilitating an open forum.

“The most important part of today was that it provided a forum for discussion between those campaigning for change and those on the tiller of change, creating a vital debate.

“Those of us who have followed these patterns for a long time were not expecting any great changes in BME coaching, but this year and last year’s figures give us a baseline against which to measure progress thereafter.”