MARTIN SAMUEL: The push for BAME coaches can be a real game changer

MARTIN SAMUEL: If football is willing to listen, the push for a BAME coach at every club can be a real game changer. Marcus Rashford has reconfigured limitations on what can be done

  • Real change is one great idea and people brave enough to implement it 
  • Premier League players are now pushing for BAME coaches at every major club 
  • The club owners should not sit tight in the belief that the issue will just go away 
  • The push is what must happen if football is to emerge from this moment altered 

Real change does not happen with T-shirts or slogans. Real change is one great idea and people brave enough to implement it.

Over to you, at the Premier League. Over to you, at the Football League. Over to you, UEFA and FIFA.

The Premier League players now pressing for a BAME coach to be installed at every major club in this country should not be distracted because the season is restarting. The club owners, the shareholders as they are known, should not sit tight in the belief this will go away. It is an idea whose time has come. It is what must happen if football is to emerge from this moment altered.

Premier League players are pushing for a BAME coach to be installed at every major club – Chris Powell (pictured) works with Gareth Southgate and England 

It is not the Rooney Rule. It is much, much better than the Rooney Rule. It is the Rooney Rule with knobs on.

Dan Rooney, owner of the NFL franchise Pittsburgh Steelers, envisaged a time when every black coach had the opportunity to get a job. He drove through legislation stating a BAME candidate had to be interviewed for every major coach or executive opportunity at each franchise. And that was a start; but it didn’t go far enough.

What the Premier League players are proposing is that a BAME coach is appointed to the staff of every club. Now that changes the game. That makes the difference.

This candidate doesn’t have to be the manager. But he is there. Visibly there. Present, involved, employed. He doesn’t have the chance of a job, he has a job. He doesn’t get a foot in the door at interview, he’s through the door and on the payroll. With 32 black coaches currently holding Pro Licenses that puts almost two thirds in employment immediately. And then, they have the chance to shine; the chance to be a candidate for the main job if the vacancy occurs; the chance to be employed elsewhere, with experience.

It is no coincidence, surely, that two BAME managers appointed this campaign – Sol Campbell at Southend (pictured) and Dino Maamria at Oldham – began season in employment elsewhere

It is no coincidence, surely, that the only two BAME managers appointed this campaign – Sol Campbell at Southend and Dino Maamria at Oldham – began the season in employment elsewhere.

Experience counts in coaching. Due to absence of opportunity, experience is what BAME coaches tend to lack. The problem with the Rooney Rule is that it becomes a box-ticking exercise. A candidate can be ostensibly considered, a protocol observed, the chairman’s first choice gets the job as he was always going to, and business continues as usual.

This is different. This is change. There is a job created, a position to be filled. And if the manager is part of the consultation process, why wouldn’t he buy into the idea?

The Football Association have implemented this at international level and it led to Chris Powell working with Gareth Southgate and England. Why wouldn’t Southgate welcome his input? Why would any sensible manager put up barriers?

The FA introduced a policy of assigning one BAME coach to each England team which led to former Charlton manager Powell working with Southgate ‘s senior squad

Raheem Sterling spoke of black players noticing the absence of BAME coaches. Who would miss the opportunity to then break down those barriers?

It cannot be done? Marcus Rashford would appear to have reconfigured the limitations on affecting change. He began by helping raise £20million for FareShare, a charity that seeks to feed the nation’s poorest children. He followed that with an open letter to MPs, urging them to reconsider cancelling a school voucher scheme that helps feed vulnerable children during the summer holidays.

Initially rebuffed, he continued applying pressure, and on Tuesday the policy changed. Threatened with a vote in Parliament, and a backbench rebellion, the Government announced a £120m Covid Summer Food Fund. Rashford is 22 and also plays football.

Marcus Rashford appears to have reconfigured limitations on affecting change in recent days

And while the Premier League may not be quite as in thrall to polls and populism as this Government that does not mean change won’t come. There should be a BAME non-executive director at every club; and a BAME coach among the staff.

As Paul Elliott, head of the FA inclusion advisory board, has pointed out, diversity benefits any workplace – particularly when there is a pool of qualified people itching for an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get started.

Really, if the players pursue their plan – certainly if they could get the League Managers Association on board, too – they should be pushing against an open door. The only surprise with this idea is its obviousness, its innocent simplicity. Instead of a complicated interview process that does not mesh with the maelstrom of the football season, and affords no guarantees for BAME coaches, here is a plan that has immediate benefits and tangible results.

Raheem Sterling’s video, released on Tuesday night, ensures the message of change is heard

This is a change football can make short-term and unaided and other sports and executive bodies will undoubtedly follow.

The release of Sterling’s powerful video on Tuesday night, and the support he has received throughout football, ensures the message of change continues to be heard. Yet the Premier League’s captains have the capacity to go even further. 

If football is willing to listen, this can be a milestone for the game in England; it can spark a movement that continues through the leagues below, into all sports, and into Europe. For this is what real change feels like; inevitable, by the end. 

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article