How can Premier League meet targets without Rooney Rule?

How can Premier League meet targets without Rooney Rule?
Taking the knee before kick-off has been an evocative image since the Premier League restarted last week. Since the death of George Floyd, players have shown solidarity on the pitch in an attempt to permeate a defiant message that racism needs to be eradicated from the game and black lives matter.

But off it, there is still an overriding element of discrimination particularly when you look at the paucity of black and ethnic minority managers in the English game.

The Rooney Rule, which was established in 2003 by the NFL and named after Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was brought in to make it compulsory for teams to interview minority candidates for coaching positions. Currently, there is only one BAME manager in England's top-flight - Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. In total, there are just six minority managers or coaches among the 91 Premier League and EFL clubs.

While that is a sorry statistic, the EFL is taking steps to address this and it has implemented the Rooney Rule. But as of yet, the Premier League isn't ready to have a serious discussion and the matter hasn't been raised at boardroom level. Bizarrely, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has ruled out England's top tier embracing the Rooney Rule anytime soon.

He said: "So far we haven't discussed it [the Rooney Rule]. It hasn't been a topic of discussion and we have no plans to put it back on the agenda.

"I think there are discussions to be had, but no current plans to put that back on the agenda.

"Lots of organisations have diversity targets and we all consider them. There is going to be an ongoing dialogue with clubs about discrimination generally and I think it's an important topic.

"What's most important is that there are no barriers to entry. The pipeline for employment in coaching are free."

The idea of there being no barriers to entry insofar as coaching opportunities are concerned, doesn't ring true with how the Premier League intends to tackle this issue. A lot of good BAME coaches have often been overlooked and not been given a chance when they are just as qualified, if not better than some of their peers.

Of course, there is no magic wand and change won't happen overnight. England operates within a rigid employment framework and the legal practises are very different compared to other European countries.

But the Premier League has to find a way to adapt and incorporate the Rooney Rule to show that it is a fluid and forward thinking organisation that offers equal opportunities.

Diversity doesn't appear to be on the menu at the Premier League. But at this time, they need to articulate their vision clearer as their approach appears to be rather muddled.

BAME managers want to feel they can make a difference and eventually make their mark in the Premier League rather than be overlooked in the lower rungs of England's football pyramid. In the future, there will be targets that will need to be met. If the Premier League isn't careful, they could be playing serious catch up with their continental neighbours.

 

Written by Charles Perrin

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