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PFA welcomes ‘landmark’ Rooney Rule proposal

Huddersfield Town Manager, Chris Powell

Football league plans changes to managerial recruitment process

The Football League has backed plans for a pilot of the Rooney Rule, requiring clubs to interview at least one black minority and ethnic (BAME) candidate for each head coach or manager role from the 2016-17 season.

Only four black managers are currently employed at the 72 League clubs.

PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor has welcomed the Football League’s announcement: “We are very pleased that the Football League has responded to our lobbying over the past 11 years on the need to implement an English version of the Rooney Rule.

“We feel sure this fairer process will result in more equitable representation to match that on the playing field.

“The union will continue its efforts to ensure that the Rooney Rule comes into effect and that football continues to show the way forward for this and all other equalities issues.”

The Rooney Rule was established in the National Football League (NFL) in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the NFL's diversity committee.

The rule was a result of report by renowned Washington Equalities Lawyer Cyrus Mehri and the late Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. entitled ‘Black Coaches in the NFL: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunity’ which challenged the league to ‘do better’ on the issue of under-representation of minority head coaches and general managers.

PFA Deputy Chief Executive, Bobby Barnes, has made several trips to Washington over the last decade to work with Mehri on an English adaptation of the rule: “We are delighted that the hard-work over many years, dating back to 2003, has now begun to come to fruition.

“We applaud the Football League in embracing this bold innovation, like many other initiatives that have now become established practice in the game, the Football League has often been the ‘proving ground’ for such policies.

“Our thanks go to our colleagues Cyrus Mehri and Professor Jeremi Duru in Washington, who have continued to provide us with their expertise and support throughout the process.

“Acknowledgment must also go to former Luton Town and England player Ricky Hill, who first brought the NFL’s Rooney Rule to our attention at the PFA’s inaugural Black Players’ Steering Committee, back in 2004.”

“This represents a landmark achievement!"

PFA Head of Equalities, Simone Pound.

The Football League proposals outline that 5 to 10 clubs will pilot a "voluntary recruitment code" to interview a BAME candidate for any first-team managerial or coaching position.

Clubs must interview at least one BAME candidate for all youth development roles which require a minimum of a UEFA B coaching licence.

The pilot will also see the creation of a 'ready-list' identifying current BAME coaches and players "with the potential and aspiration to coach in professional football" and networking opportunities improved.

Barnes highlights that the union has been working towards these goals for over a decade: “The appointment of Paul Davis in 2003 was pivotal in encouraging BAME players to take up their coaching qualifications, thus helping to create a critical mass of qualified individuals, who are now ready and capable to work in football’s top jobs.”

“The PFA has also created an online Coaching Directory, which is a simple recruitment tool which gives all qualified PFA members a platform to upload their CV, making it available to clubs both domestically and internationally.”

The Football League will now look to finalise details of the proposal before they are voted on at the League's 2016 annual general meeting.

PFA Head of Equalities Simone Pound, has celebrated the ‘landmark’ announcement: “This represents a landmark achievement!

“It is over 10 years since the proposition was first introduced at the Black Players’ Steering Committee. When the PFA first took the Rooney Rule forward, it was almost dismissed as a concept.

“The Football League pilot is a culmination of the concerted efforts that have gone on behind the scenes, and a direct result of the considerable lobbying to change hearts and minds on the issue.”

Pound concluded: “Whilst the PFA will continue to look forward, I think at least for today we can look proudly back at where the process started.”

“There is a lot of work ahead and we will continue the battle for equality across the game. The union will now do everything that it can to ensure the Rooney Rule is implemented for the sake of our membership.”