Skip to content

David James believes ‘Rooney Rule’ enforces positive discrimination, cites need for higher quality in black managers

Apr 18, 2013, 8:35 PM EDT

PST James

On the heels of comments by Gordon Taylor, union chief of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), concerning the application of the ‘Rooney Rule’ to English football, former England goalkeeper David James claims the shortage of black managers in the Premier League is not a race issue.

The 42-year-old netminder, currently playing with Icelandic club ÍBV, fears the positive discrimination that could result from implementation of a ‘Rooney Rule.’ Being forced to consider black managers for any vacancy, James claims, misses the point. “Having been on two FA coaching courses, A Licence and B Licence, there weren’t many ethnic coaches, black or other, on the courses.

“And, if you look at the ones who have been sacked – the highlighted examples of there being a glass ceiling – well they’ve been bloody bad managers, so why should you give them a job?”

Presently there are only five black managers in the 92 club English professional game: Norwich’s Chris Hughton, Charlton’s Chris Powell, Blackpool’s Paul Ince, Barnet’s Edgar Davids and Notts County’s Chris Kiwomya. The most successful of these managers is Hughton, who is managing his second club in the Premier League, Norwich City, after managing Newcastle from 2008-10.

Not one to fear speaking his mind, James said about Hughton: “He’s decent at what he does and that’s the problem – the standard of black managers in England isn’t good enough to demand these positions.” James’ comments come at odds with Taylor’s firm belief that the PFA’s equivalent of the ‘Rooney Rule’ will address the lack of black representation.

James’ comments focus on the quality (or lack thereof) of black managers in England. On one hand, James’ fear of positive discrimination certainly has merit. He essentially argues that it’s not about the color of someone’s skin, rather about whether or not they are good enough to do the job. Under James’ view the potential opportunity gained by implementing a ‘Rooney Rule’ is not justified since there is a lack of quality black managers to choose in England.

The fact that there are only five black managers in the English game can also be used to support James’ contentions. Many might point out that this number, when compared with the number of qualified black coaches in the NFL, represents a titanic difference.

On the other hand, James’ view could be seen as shortsighted. Merely because there are only five black managers in England could simply be indicative of a culture that, expressly or impliedly, has long discouraged black players from pursuing a career in managing English football. Perhaps such a culture has forced those would-be managers in England to pursue their dream elsewhere (e.g. the U.S.) or simply to pursue another career altogether. If, however, those opportunities were to expand via the ‘Rooney Rule’ then it’s possible more black players who aspire to manage in England may be inclined to pursue such a path.

This school of thought would also argue that merely because there are only five black managers in England does not indicate that this represents the entire pool of potential hirees. Retiring black players and managers at posts outside of England could foreseeably be candidates as well.

Balancing the implications of positive discrimination and traditional discrimination is never easy but one that English football nevertheless appears intent on undertaking.

Latest Posts
  1. Transfer needs – Manchester United, Newcastle, QPR, Southampton, Stoke

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    We continue our look at what each PL team needs to do in the final few days of the window.

  2. Preview: Possible “Groups of Death” galore in UEFA Champions League draw

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT

    Champions League logo

    All the details you need to know, as the UCL group stage draw takes place on Thursday.

  3. Report: Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck heading to Tottenham?

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:54 AM EDT

    Welbeck Getty Images

    England international reportedly chased by several PL clubs, as Spurs join the suitors.

  4. Wayne Rooney named new England captain as youthful squad selected

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:16 AM EDT

    England's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) AP

    Rooney handed the armband by Hodgson, as new-look England head into a brave new era.

  5. Report: Diego Costa could be out four to six weeks with hamstring injury

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Pre-Season Friendly - "Vitesse Arnhem v Chelsea" Getty Images

    Reports indicate Chelsea striker Diego Costa has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out of the side for four to six weeks.

  6. Samuel Eto’o announces international retirement from Cameroon

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:24 PM EDT

    Soc Wcup Cameroon Samuel Eto'o AP

    Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o has announced his retirement from international football.

  7. Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph all set for England call-ups

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT

    Source: Arsenal FC Source: Arsenal FC

    The BBC is reporting that Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph are all set for England call-ups.

  8. Report: Geoff Cameron injured in Stoke City’s victory over Portsmouth

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Harry Kane, Geoff Cameron AP

    Lazio is most interested in the American’s services but the recent injury casts doubt on the likelihood of a transfer.

  9. League Cup Roundup: QPR and Aston Villa crash out

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT

    Romain Vincelot celebrates his goal that knocked out Villa Getty Images

    QPR and Aston Villa followed Manchester United’s lead in crashing out of the League Cup to clubs from the Football League.

  10. Champions League Roundup: Ludogorets defender saves penalty to put Bulgarians through

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets

    Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti took the gloves and saved two penalties to help his side advance to the Champions League group stage.

  11. Transfer needs – Everton, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City

    Aug 27, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    Falcao Getty Images

    Let’s take a look at five more clubs and how they will wheel and deal before the window slams shut.

  12. Olivier Giroud undergoes ankle surgery, out 3-4 months for Arsenal

    Aug 27, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    Olivier Giroud scored the only goal in what was often a rather drab affair at the Emirates. Getty Images

    The loss of Giroud skyrockets the possibility of Wenger soon moving to sign another pure striker.

  13. Report: Xabi Alonso reaches agreement with Bayern Munich

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    arjen_robben_xabi_alonso Getty Images

    Reports across Europe claim that Xabi Alonso has reached an agreement with Bayern Munich.

  14. Xabi Alonso retires from Spanish National Team

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Spain v France - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final Getty Images

    “The hardest thing is knowing when to say goodbye,” Xabi Alonso said.

  15. VIDEO: Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola loses it, shoves Thomas Muller

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Guardiola

    Guardiola gives Muller a piece of his mind during Bayern’s open practice session.

  16. Tottenham Hotspur sign Argentine international Federico Fazio

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    Press Conference - UEFA Super Cup for UEFA Getty Images

    Fazio heads to White Hart Lane on four-year deal from Sevilla.

  17. UEFA postpone Israel’s Euro 2016 qualifier vs. Belgium due to safety fears

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    Mideast Israel Palestinians AP

    As conflict continues between Israel, Hamas, UEFA has stepped in to postpone qualifier.

  18. PHOTO: British papers rip into Manchester United after League Cup humiliation

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    Following United’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat to a third-tier team, the UK media have not been kind.

Featured video

Balotelli will boost Suarez-less Liverpool