PFA Exec: Clubs shouldn't fear Coaching Fair Play - the UK's 'Rooney rule'

Chris Hughton

Norwich's Chris Hughton is the only black manager in the Premier League. Can a new PFA backed initiative help address the imbalance?

A PFA executive insists clubs have nothing to fear from the Coaching Fair Play initiative as talks continue with football’s governing bodies over its proposed implementation.

Simone Pound, Head of Equality and Diversity at the PFA, believes clubs should embrace a UK equivalent of the ‘Rooney Rule’ which would see black coaches interviewed for managerial positions.

The scheme has already been successful in identifying talent and addressing the under-representation of black coaches in the NFL, and Pound believes Coaching Fair Play can have a similar impact in the UK.

“We are having constant talks with all the football authorities and we’re really just trying to get people to understand the issue,” she said.

“People get really frightened by initiatives such as this because people don’t want to be told what to do, but all we’re asking for is the opportunity for someone to be interviewed

“We’re not saying give them a job, we’re just saying let people come to the table because there is a lot of talent out there that people are not identifying.”

There are only four black managers among the 92 League clubs in England, Chris Hughton at Norwich, Paul Ince at Blackpool, Chris Powell at Charlton and Chris Kiwomya at Notts County.

Pound believes the PFA must continue to work to address this imbalance for the sake of its members and the wider football community.

“It’s about diversifying that pool of talent,” she said.

“We have to keep turning the wheel and we need to continue to make sure there are opportunities available for everyone who has the talent, drive and desire to be in the game.

“As a union it’s really important for us.”

In recent months the PFA have been working on developing the Coaching Fair Play initiative with the lawyer who put together the Rooney Rule in America, Cyrus Mehri.

But addressing the shortage of black managers in football has been discussed by the PFA for over 10 years, and talks have involved several former black players including John Barnes and Luther Blissett.

Pound emphasised the importance of obtaining coaching qualifications for black players who aspire to be managers, and believes promoting such candidates will be crucial in order to boost their presence in the game.

“It’s all about education and getting the qualifications needed to get you on the path to success,” she said.

“Part of coaching fair play involves working towards a ready list and getting players who have got all of those qualifications and highlighting and profiling them because I think that is going to be key.”

What do you think of the initiative?

image: © blenky64

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