Friday, 19 April 2013

Turning Point for Recruitment of Black Coaches

'Instead of getting somebody you know, you should strive to get somebody who is the best. The way to do this is to cast a wide net, interview several candidates including people of different backgrounds and including people who are overlooked, both black and white'. Cyrus Mehri.

I am tired of the merry go round of familiar faces switching Premier League and Football League jobs amongst themselves. I have written elsewhere ( Rooney Rule ) railing against the injustice that is the absence of opportunity for potential black coaches or managers. Nothing very much seemed to be changing and I seriously questioned the will of those in a position to make meaningful changes.

But nothing bad lasts forever. A similar situation pertained in NFL a decade ago. NFL teams commonly interviewed only one or 2 candidates for vacant positions before declaring the position filled. Unsurprisingly few of these coaches was from a minority background notwithstanding that when, occasionally given an opportunity, minority coaches had excelled.

Cyrus Mehri in conjunction with 'OJ Simpson Lawyer', the late Johnnie Cochrane, came up with a simple but impressively effective answer. The NFL was persuaded that clubs should be compelled to interview more candidates for posts and the rules decreed that minority candidates should be amongst this wider pool.

Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, advocated the plan and it became effective from 2003 'The Rooney Rule' was born. It is not a quota system, but a rule of equal competition.

The effects were fairly stunning and later in the decade black coaches or General Managers appeared in 6 consecutive Super Bowls.

English Football has thus far proved a tougher nut to crack. Amongst the contrary arguments were that  time was of the essence, the wider the pool the longer the process, and that clubs could not afford to be without a manager for such a period of time. There were fears of tokenism.

Is that about to change? Following collaboration between the PFA (advised by Mehri) and the Football League, a proposal named 'Coaching Fair Play' is to be put to the 24 Division 2 Chairmen in June 2013. Hiring clubs will be required to interview at least one individual from a 'ready list' of minority coaches. The scheme is backed by Football League Chairman Greg Clarke and Richard Bevan of the LMA. It is hoped that this will be in place for next season and will in due course be adopted by the Premier League. By that point there should be many more experienced minority candidates than is presently the case.

PFA Chief Gordon Taylor said 'If we are to encourage players to stay in the need to give people a belief that having qualified they will be given a fair chance to get employment'.

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