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Last Updated: Monday, 24 March 2008, 09:39 GMT
The footballing Black List
Football's Black List

By Leon Mann

Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand is one of only two current players in a list of the most influential black people in football released on Monday.

The Black List has been published by The Voice, Britain's leading newspaper for the black community, to highlight the contribution that people from an African Caribbean background are making to the game.

The black community has had a long association with the game, dating back to Arthur Wharton who became the world's first professional black footballer in 1889 when he made his debut for Preston North End.

Today up to 30% of professional footballers are black, with a number of those players regularly selected for England. However, there is well documented under-representation off the pitch with only two managers and one chief executive who are black.

Despite this there are a number of black individuals making waves across the game.

In many ways everyone on this list is a pioneer

The Voice sport and features editor Rodney Hinds

Sport and features editor of The Voice, Rodney Hinds, explained that the list wasn't a measure of fame or to acknowledge playing milestones - but about influence.

"The list is based on an individual's influence in football and how they have used that," said Hinds.

"So as well as looking at the affect of people's words and actions over recent years, we also set out to identify who was attending the decision-making meetings in the game.

"We didn't narrow our pool to just footballers and administrators, we also looked at those in the media and the commercial side of the game as they can often have a considerable influence.

"In many ways everyone on this list is a pioneer and its important to pay tribute to their achievements."

The Black List features senior administrators such as Millwall's executive deputy chairman Heather Rabbatts, assistant chief executive of the PFA Bobby Barnes and Jason Rockett at Sheffield United - the only black chief executive in professional football.

Professional Footballers' Association chairman Chris Powell, who is also player-coach at Charlton, joins Ferdinand as the only other current player on the list.

Some unfamiliar names are also listed such as Chris Nathaniel, a young agent who has negotiated a seven-figure book deal for England's John Terry and works closely with Ferdinand, Micah Richards, Obafemi Martins and Ryan Babel.

The BBC is represented by pundit Garth Crooks and sport radio editor Hepburn Harrison Graham.

The list has been supported by football's anti-racism campaign, Kick It Out, who were canvassed for their opinion, as well as football authorities the Football Association, the Premier League and the PFA.

The 30 most influential black people in English football:

Hope Powell
Lord John Taylor
Jason Rockett
Alex Williams
Darren Lewis
Uriah Rennie
Noel Blake
Paul Elliott
Garth Crooks
Lord Herman Ouseley
Chris Ramsey
Tony Whelan
Hepburn Harrison-Graham
Rio Ferdinand
Rodney Hinds

Chris Kamara
Robbie Earle
Sky Andrew
Tony Finnigan
Heather Rabbats
John Barnes
Les Ferdinand
Ian Wright
Bobby Barnes
Brendon Batson
Chris Powell
Paul Ince
Keith Alexander
Andy Ansah
Chris Nathaniel

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