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Rooney Rule could reach 'breaking point'

Notts County manager Keith Curle

English Football may be reaching a 'breaking point' over introducing a 'Rooney Rule', according to a top US Sport discrimination lawyer.

Prof Jeremi Duru who works with Cyrus Mehri, a lawyer who helped push through the adoption of the Rooney rule in the American NFL, also believes legal action may need to be considered.

The Rooney Rule was introduced in 2003 by the NFL to ensure minority coaches are on the interview lists for job vacancies. It states clubs must interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate when appointing a new head coach.

Duru is hopeful however, that legal proceedings could be prevented by means of a proper discussion regarding the regulation: "I think there's a place where we can get to that's short of legal action, that can propel the conversation in the direction where reforms are made,"

"There needs to be a clear understanding that we are not talking about a hiring quota or a rule that bears on hiring.

"It's not about someone not having merit being hired. It is about opening the door so people can get in the room and argue their merit. That's all it is.

"I think that if that point can be driven home then I think we can have a legitimate, reasonable debate about whether a Rooney Rule system would be something that would be appropriate in the United Kingdom.

"If we have that debate and [still] no progress then maybe we think about taking further steps. Legal action is a possibility."

Currently, Keith Curle and Chris Powell are the only black managers in the top four English leagues.

Duru has close links with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) who have lobbied for the introduction of an English adaptation of the Rooney Rule since 2011, with Chief Executive Gordon Taylor adding recently that football suffers from “a hidden racism which holds clubs back” when it comes to appointing black managers.

Duru believes that with the alliance of organisations like the PFA, increasing the diversity of managers can be achieved.

He said: "You've got black managers arguing for it, you've got people at the PFA saying it's important. You've got Kick It Out, you've got MPs saying that this is something that's important.

"I think we're building towards possibly a breaking point on this in a way that we weren't two years ago."

"I think at this point in the United Kingdom is a time for players to be courageous because the benefits of a system that is more open will accrue to them if they want to go into management

"If you have players coming out on this strongly and in a united front together that could really be what turns the tide on this. Players must recognise this power that they have."