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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 15:39 UK

Why are black coaches struggling in England?

John Barnes
John Barnes is battling to find a job as a coach

When the English Premier League kicks off next month, Paul Ince will be the first-ever black British manager to be involved in the action.

A former England midfielder, Ince has been given the job with Blackburn Rovers, despite not having the necessary qualifications.

But another England great, John Barnes, says that he cannot find a coaching job even in the lower leagues (see link to the story on the right.)

Africa's love of European and Brazilian coaches is well-known, and the reasons for choosing a foreign rather than a local coach include the experience and qualifications that a foreigner may have to offer.

The issue of a local coach favouring those from his own ethnic group is another factor, with foreign coaches generally perceived as being 'neutral'.

But neither of these reasons can apply to a qualified black British coach looking for work in England.

And statistics show that in all the divisions of England's Football League, there are only seven other black coaches of any capacity.

This constitutes only about 1% of the total number of coaches - despite more than 20% of players being black.

What are your feelings about the lack of black coaches in English football? Does it surprise you? Do you see any parallels with African football?

You can email your views using the form on the right, and a selection of coments will be published below. We will discuss this topic on Fast Track on the BBC World Service for Africa at 1600 GMT on Friday 11 July.

Please let us not allow racism to rear its ugly head in the beautiful game of football. If you love the game and your club is winning, who cares about who gets coaching job or not. Like all other jobs, the chairman hires who he thinks will bring him success! Likewise African countires who hire white coaches.

I think it's very ironic that there are so few black coaches in the English game. Ironic because England always claim to be champions of anti-racism. However, they're way behind the United States as far as giving oppotunities to black coaches to make a mark on professional sports.
Sammy, Kentucky, USA

If black people are seven times more likesly to be stopped and search in UK, Why what else do you expect in terms of hiring black coaches. Again why do you think they also find it painful to make Rio the captain of England.

Its difficult to think it runs parallel with the African experience because these are English people here.So,its okay to be an English great player as a black man but not as a coach.The answer, ingrained deep seathed racism-the solution- black people should put money into the game, own clubs and appoint they own kind as managers-simple
Ogaji Ejeh, Abuja-Nigeria

I am not surprised especially that racism in a subject we are paying lip service to. There is the more likely hood of having more black coaches in France than in England, just as there will be more successful black coaches in basketball in America than football coaches in England. Why did Paul Ince not make the best coach in the league he was coaching in last season. England pretends that it is doing something about racism. However, I must commend that the English people are still the most tolerant people in Europe
jude emelifeonwu, Stoke on Trent

While no one doubts the athletic prowess of black players as well as their contributions to teams, the media never really highlights the cerebral aspects of the players. The perception is that African and black players are great to have in your team especially when they give that edge over rivals-witness Henry, witness Drogba.However they will never be touted as thinkers as players with revolutionary concepts as footballers who see the bigger picture and who can discuss football on a deep level. Marcel Dessaily is a good commentator-but would England accept him as a coach-as a boss? Maybe not now.
John Tobisch, Southend-on-Sea

The white Brits have never stopped treating black as underclass human beings, They see themselves as possessing the monopoly of intelligence. That racist view is fading out though. I remember when a black in England could not play in the mid field no matter how talented (ignorant fools). today look at the best team in the league the thinkers are black (thank you very much) Take is advice; Unless you change you mentality you will never win anything and foreigners will dominate your league and overshadow your players France and Brazil learned it the hard way Germany and other are coming along.
ambonda, Washington DC

It's obvious the coaching business is a 'You are as good as your last result' trade and certainly leaves no room for sentiments. Barnes who arguably was England's most gifted winger had a big chance at Celtic but the results were unimpressive. The Ince Factor (get the result at any level) will always put any aspiring manager in the right frame for a prime job. Show me a black or non-black coach with impressive results that has not been hired?
Opeyemi Ajala, Lagos, Nigeria

I believe that there is a degree of racism involved like everything else in British society. However, I prefer to focus more on the the lack of role models for black players to follow in the transition into football management positions. Most white players start transitioning into coaching positions when they are getting to the latter stages in their football playing careers.There are exceptions of course like the Roy Keane situation. With the appointment of Ince, things will change mainly because most black players will study the method he used to get to where he is today. Ince followed the proper procedure by proving his worth at lower divisions of the league and worked his way up. Even if he is not successful at Blackburn, he will be given another job because he has proven at Macclesfield and MK Dons that he is a winner. The Barnes situation is slightly different in that he started at the top with nothing to fall back on as a basis for his capabilities. The situation was ! bleak for black players but Ince is opening a new door and it will stay open especially if he is successful at Blackburn. The African situation of employing foreign coaches is a completely different scenario where part of the reasons range from tribalism to most countries not having professional leagues where proper local coahes can receive the right training. The few that do go into coaching, meet a different set of challenges from political and social in being able to land and keep a job. The likes of Egypt have a proper professional league and it is no wonder they have and can sustain a local coach at the national level for long periods of time.
Sule Nformi, Dallas, Texas, USA

maybe they are not good enough ,lots of them had chances to manage but they just couldn't do it
mohammed, surbiton surrey

Some people are prejudiced without knowing. They just go with the flow. This is what they see, have seen, and is happening so they go with it. Though, I suspect some chairmen may be willing to employ Black players as coaches but if things go wrong, they are not sure of the fans' reaction. Barnes tried to play a brand of football which may have been too much for the players he had at Celtic. He made a mistake, yet plenty have. So why is he not being given another chance? Bryan Robson has managed about 3 clubs or so and has taken one down twice, yet he still gets jobs. Steve Bruce has managed about 6 clubs and taken one down twice, yet he is never out of a job. I don't believe that a great footballer makes a great manager, but that is the case in England. SO if we use players' status to give them jobs, then why is Barnes, a twice footballer of the year, 80 caps, two world Cups, scorer of one of the greatest goals for England, Liverpool legend, not being able to get a job in even the lower leagues? Why is Les Ferdinand not employed in football? Ironically, if he was foreign, he would have been deemed to be bringing a different flavour and would have got a job, like Gullit and Tigana. Well, Tigana was emplyed by an Egyptian so it probably doesn't count. It saddens me.
theo, london, UK

Racism is everywhere and should be condemned in all its forms. This does not preclude that when anyone is unsuccesful, they should start jumping into conclusions. I have work with Europeans and my general opinion is that only a small fraction of them are racist. Blacks are just under 3 percent of the UK population, but they represent around 20 percent of UK football players. Can that be thought of as racism against the white race or that they have worked hard to achieve that rate of success in football? Whatabout the lack of blond or goth coaches in the UK? Is that not racism. As Africans, we should emulate the UK example of fighting racism and fight to suppress our own problems of tribalism, nepotism, corruption, etc, rather than hiding it behind the carpet. The Europeans are open to discussions about problems of their society in their bid to provide a solution, we should also be open to discussions about our own problems, rather than always hiding it over the carpet.
rexon, Cameroonian in Glasgow

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see also
Barnes battles for post as boss
23 Jun 08 |  Football
Blackburn appoint Ince as manager
22 Jun 08 |  Blackburn

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