A scheme for developing black and minority ethnic coaches will launch in the English Football League next season but is not the “giant leap” needed to transform the game, campaigners have warned.
The Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association have agreed to fund a bursary that would allow six BAME players to take up two-year “intensive work placements” at EFL clubs, a move intended to help transition players to management and resolve the longstanding and systemic absence of black coaches.
The announcement comes as there is renewed focus on racial inequality in sport and society at large following the Black Lives Matter protests. Premier League players wore the slogan on the back of their shirts for the restart and have taken a knee before matches and when celebrating goals.
“It is vital that there are no barriers to entry to the pipelines for employment in coaching,” the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, said, announcing the plans. “We need more BAME coaches entering the system to create greater opportunities throughout the professional game.”
Starting next season as a pilot, the scheme was devised in part by the Premier League’s Black Participants’ Advisory Group, which includes Doncaster Rovers’ manager, Darren Moore, one of six BAME managers working in the Premier League and EFL. The EFL is consulting on which clubs will take part and it will supplement a current process run by the Premier League across its academy system.
The move was welcomed by Sanjay Bhandari, the chief executive of Kick it Out, who called it a “differential investment in talent”, by allowing BAME coaches to show and develop skills in a club environment. Bhandari, however, said more needed to be done.
“It’s a really useful small step forward, but probably not the giant leap we need,” he said. “Concrete goals is what I’d really like to have: that by 2025 20% of the boardroom should be people of colour, that 25% of the coaching staff should be people of colour and that you create all the infrastructure that enables that to happen.
“If we set the targets we’re not going to meet them unless we cut down the barriers to entry. One of those is about creating these differential investments in talent, so in that respect I really welcome [the scheme]. But there are also other things that we need to do to disrupt those existing informal networks which are the ways that jobs are handed out in football.”