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The Premier League’s adaptation of the NFL’s ‘Rooney Rule’

Apr 18, 2013, 7:20 PM EST

PST Gordon Taylor

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is moving forward with its progressive new Coaching Fair Play Plan that will address the lack of black representation in the management ranks. The featured aspect of the plan is a rule adapted from the National Football League’s ‘Rooney’s Rule’, requiring English clubs to consider black managers for any vacancy.

The rule is being championed by players union chief Gordon Taylor (pictured), who hopes it will combat the conservatism he feels has prevented a large percentage of black professional players from developing into professional managers. Whether the Coaching Fair Play Plan will be implemented, remains to be seen and will ultimately be decided by the 72 chairman of the Football League.

The impetus for the rule is the minuscule number (five) of black managers presently employed by the 92 professional clubs throughout England. Taylor knows it is not enough and believes the NFL’s landmark rule will provide the breakthrough. “People are always more comfortable with other people who are the same as them; language, color. It is almost defensive,” said Taylor.

“Owners have been more than happy to have black players on the pitch, and black managers from abroad such as Ruud Gullit and Jean Tigana, but the overall figures are not in line with numbers on the pitch. It is not going to happen overnight but we need more representation in senior positions. We need role models for black managers the same as we had for players.

“It is a shock that racism is still a topic when we have made such progress but as we have seen with the crowd trouble over the weekend, we should never dream of slacking up on any of the issues we have made progress with, because the minute we do, it all comes out of the bottle again.”

Taylor is convinced that the correct way forward for the Plan is a “bottom up” approach of implementing it among the Football League and pushing it up through the top-flight. The path would effectively imitate that of the new Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Plan comes at a time when racism has become one of the predominant issues in Europe and specifically, England. Last year Liverpool player Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches for racist remarks made to Patrice Evra while John Terry was brought to court and disciplinary hearings after his racist jibe at Anton Ferdinand. Last Fall, Lazio fans racially abused Tottenham’s black players and Serbian fans directed monkey chants at England Under-21 full-back Danny Rose.

The incidents prompted the establishment of anti-racism groups like ‘Kick It Out,’ which have since been deemed inadequate by players like Jason Roberts as well as Rio and Anton Ferdinand. Taylor and the PFA have taken notice and the chief claims the ‘Rooney Rule’ will bring about positive changes that English football needs so that the aforementioned incidents will become a thing of the past. “It is about making it fairer,” said Taylor.

“In politics they found there were not enough females in the House of Commons, so they came up with the idea of shortlists having to have women on them.

“The basic principle is the same. No-one is telling owners who to employ. It is letting them know they are people out there because frankly, the whole process of selection with regard to managers and coaches is causing a fair amount of embarrassment.”

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