Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 07:02 GMT
Focus: Football's black mark
Paul Ince
By Simon Austin

English football's claim to be fair and equal is fatally undermined by the current plight of the country's black coaches.

These statistics show the scale of the problem:

  • Less than 1% of senior coaching staff at the 92 league clubs are black - even though more than 20% of players are.
  • Only two managers - Macclesfield's Paul Ince and Torquay's Keith Curle - are not white.
  • Just two of the nine most highly-qualified black coaches in the country - all of whom have better qualifications than Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate - currently have jobs in the league.
  • Since its inception in 1992, there has never been a black English manager in the Premiership - even though about 25% of its players are not white. Jean Tigana managed Fulham and Ruud Gullit was in charge at Chelsea and Newcastle, but there has not been an English black manager in the top flight.

Garth Crooks, the BBC broadcaster, former Tottenham striker and football adviser to the Commission for Racial Equality, describes the situation as "appalling".

"Football should be ashamed of itself," he told BBC Sport.

"Bearing in mind the self-confessed tolerance of English football today, it's shocking that Paul Ince and Keith Curle are the only black managers in the league.

"We're certainly not in a position where we can afford to exclude a whole section of society from coaching and management."



The University of Warwick's Sue Bridgewater, who has carried out extensive research on black coaches and managers, says: "There is a general view that they are not being given the same opportunities as their white counterparts."

Crooks says the different opportunities given to former Manchester United team-mates Roy Keane and Paul Ince highlight this.

Graph: Number of black managers appointed

They were two of the finest central midfielders of their generation and captains of their country.

Yet Keane was handed his first managerial job at Championship side Sunderland, while Ince was passed over for a Championship job before taking over at Macclesfield, who were bottom of League Two.

"One is at the bottom of the league and the other is near the top," Crooks said. "Why is that?

"Is it because people are more comfortable with Roy Keane, his culture and the way he looks and talks?

"The view among black footballers used to be that they had to be much better than their white counterparts to get in the team. The same seems to be true of black managers now."

Viv Anderson, England's first black international, now runs his own business after becoming disillusioned at the lack of opportunities to become a manager after eight years as assistant at Middlesbrough and a season before that as boss at Barnsley.

He describes football as "an old pals act, a closed shop where chairmen appoint managers they know and are comfortable with, and the managers choose their own backroom staff".

When you consider that there is not a single black chairman or director at any of the 92 league clubs, this suspicion is not surprising.

Crooks describes the way that some clubs recruit their coaching staff as "bordering on the medieval".

"People should be allowed to be interviewed and properly assessed, based on their record and CV, just as they are in most other walks of life," he says.

Managers: Paul Ince (Macclesfield), Keith Curle (Torquay)
Assistant managers: Chris Hughton (Spurs), Steve Brown (Wycombe), Brian Stein (Luton)
Coaches: Terry Connor (Wolves)
Academy: Chris Ramsay (Spurs)
"As an example, I know two reserve-team coaches who have recently been appointed without even having the qualifications. No other industry in the world would appoint on that basis."

Bridgewater insists that most clubs do now use the same recruitment techniques as industry. She cites the example of Coventry, who employed recruitment consultants, sifted through CVs and interviewed candidates before appointing Iain Dowie earlier this week.

Yet there are exceptions. A spokesman for Leeds United admitted Dennis Wise had been appointed without any other candidates being interviewed for the post.

"The chairman thought Dennis was the right man for the job," he said.

And managers often bring their own backroom staff with them without going through a formal recruitment process.

Jason Galbraith Marten, a self-employed barrister specialising in employment and discrimination law, says clubs are leaving themselves open to legal action if they use such a recruitment process.

"The code of practice of the Commission for Racial Equality recommends what you should do to have a fair and transparent recruitment procedure," he said.

"If you failed to follow this, it would strengthen your case at a tribunal. If successful, you could claim compensation for injury to feelings and loss of earnings."


Despite the shortfalls in the recruitment processes of many clubs, Notts County striker Jason Lee says black coaches themselves are partly to blame for their plight.

The former Nottingham Forest forward is in the twilight of his career and beginning to take his coaching badges.

"I don't think enough black players are pushing themselves," he told BBC Sport.

"I think more internationals, some of the better players, should be pushing themselves. I don't think enough of them have done the badges and put the time and effort in.

Pro Licence & Warwick Certificate: Noel Blake (asst coach to England U16 and U19s), Iffy Onuora (out of work)*, Chris Ramsay (Spurs academy coach), Paul Davis (PFA)
Pro Licence: Leroy Rosenior (out of work)*, Keith Alexander (out of work)*
Uefa A & Warwick Certificate: Andy Preece (Worcester manager), Keith Curle (Torquay manager), Neville Hamilton (runs coaching business)
* will finish course this June
"I'm frustrated with some of my black colleagues who don't give it a real go. It's easy for me to say at the minute, because I haven't applied for these jobs yet and been given knock-backs.

"But if I start to get rejected in favour of people less qualified than me then I'd start to break it down and wonder why I wasn't getting the job.

"If you can't find any reason, it's easy to say 'well I'm black and he's white'. I think that's just the way of the world and some people just need a reason."

Former Newcastle and England striker Les Ferdinand is currently taking his Uefa B coaching licence and told BBC Sport "you don't see black faces on the courses".

Brendon Batson MBE, one of the first top black footballers and now a consultant to the Football Association on issues of equality and diversity, says a lack of role models is a big problem.

"There haven't been any role models for young black coaches, which has led to a mindset among black players of 'this isn't for us'," he told BBC Sport.

Crooks says this is because he and Batson are part of a "lost generation" of black coaches - players who made the breakthrough into English football in the 1970s and 1980s yet were never given the chance to move into management.

For example, Crooks says former England international Cyril Regis - who was one of the "Three Degrees" at West Brom in the 1970s - became an agent after failing to make the breakthrough into management.

"He wasn't even given the courtesy of a reply when he applied for jobs," Crooks says.

"I made the decision a long time ago that I would be better off making a career in broadcasting rather than management.

"I don't see why I should suffer the humiliation of not even getting a reply."


John Barnes, the finest black player of his generation, was held up as the great hope for black managers.

He was handed a massive opportunity when he was named manager of Scottish giants Celtic in June 1999, but lasted only eight months after a disastrous run of results including a Cup defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Barnes was eager to move back into management, and even coached for free at Swindon for a while, but was not given a second chance and now works as a television presenter.

John Barnes
Barnes was not given another management opportunity after Celtic
Ferdinand says he is angry that Barnes was not given another opportunity.

He told BBC Sport: "People say he wasn't ready for that job. But there are plenty of Caucasian managers who weren't ready for jobs, failed, and were then given another chance.

"John was a fantastic player, is intelligent and thoughtful, and will have learned from his experiences at Celtic. But he seems to have been thrown on the managerial scrapheap."

Yet Bridgewater has a statistic that 55% of first-time managers never work again.

So the resounding message is that when a job comes up, you have to be ready for it.

As well as Ferdinand taking the Uefa B course, three of the 21 coaches currently taking the Uefa Pro Licence course - Iffy Onuora, Keith Alexander and Leroy Rosenior - are black.


The CRE published a report on racial equality in English football in October 2004 entitled "It's Everyone's Game".

It was highly critical and prompted the sport's governing bodies to confront the issue. Yet, ironically, there were more black managers in the league - three - then than there are now.

The Premier League introduced a "racial equality standard", which 14 of its 20 clubs have signed up to. The Football Association points out that the coach of its women's team, Hope Powell, is black, as is recently-appointed England under-16 and 19 coach Blake.

Yet the Professional Footballers' Association seems to have been the most proactive in ensuring that there are more black coaches and managers in the future.

It set up a black coaches' forum, headed up by former Arsenal midfielder Paul Davis, in the wake of the CRE report.

Davis contacts black players as they near the end of their career to find out if they want to pursue a career in coaching.

He then gives them advice and information about getting their coaching badges and qualifications, lets them know about job vacancies, helps with CVs and interviews, and encourages them to go to games and network.

Former England full-back Earl Barrett told BBC Sport: "I thought I had no chance of becoming a coach when I finished playing, because there were so few black managers in the game.

Former Lincoln and Peterborough manager Keith Alexander
It might take a black owner with plenty of money or someone going through the divisions for a black manager to get a chance at the highest level

Keith Alexander
Former Lincoln & Peterborough boss
"But the forum encouraged me to try and gave me hope. They encouraged me to keep busy and go to games. Now I'm getting qualifications (he has completed a sports science degree and is now looking into taking his Uefa B badge) and hope to get a foot in the door."

Bobby Barnes, the PFA's London representative, says Barrett is part of a new generation of black coaches who will be qualified to manage at the very highest level.

Bridgewater says the aim must be for there to be the same proportion of black managers as there are players, which would mean about 18 of the 92 clubs having non-white bosses.

"Steps are now being taken and black coaches are becoming highly qualified. The issue is out in the open and steps are being taken to correct it."

She, Barnes and the governing bodies believe there will be more black managers in the future.

Yet Keith Alexander, who led Lincoln to four consecutive play-offs before having a short and inglorious spell at Peterborough, thinks it will take a bigger change.

He told BBC Sport: "How many black chairmen or board members are there? I don't know of any.

"How many of the FA coaching courses are run by black people? Only Noel Blake.

"It makes you think it will take a black owner with plenty of money, who comes in and appoints a manager, or someone like Paul Ince going through the divisions for a black manager to get a chance at the highest level."

Football 'excluding' black bosses
22 Feb 07 |  Football
What is a Uefa Pro Licence?
01 Dec 06 |  Football
Posh part company with Alexander
15 Jan 07 |  Peterborough United
Anderson calls for more black coaches
16 Jun 03 |  World Football
Rosenior sacked as Brentford boss
18 Nov 06 |  Brentford

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us