Why are there so few Black coaches in football

You don’t deserve the job just because you are black. You should get the job if you’re good enough

“Throughout these debates I have online, it seems that the irony of being able to name all of the black men who have managed in the Premier League on my hand gets lost on my counterparts.”

2020 has been a strange year, to say the least. What has been good about 2020 is that awkward conversations about race are beginning to take place. There has been many a debate about black coaches in football recently.

Why aren’t there many professional black football managers and coaches? Is it due to unfair employment? is there unconscious bias in football too? 

Is it due to black football coaches and managers not working as hard as their white counterparts? 

We will review it all.

Some really harsh comments have been said by social commentators. It has been a struggle in trying to debate some of these commentators. It’s like all common sense goes out of the window. 

All of the professionals that we debate about are that, professionals. They have all passed the necessary qualifications yet find themselves not being able to attain a role to gain experience.

I follow the BBC Football sports page on Facebook and have become a Top Fan due to my frequent engagement with their posts. During the summer 2020 months, my engagement increased whenever there was a post about black football coaches.

On a few occasions, I engaged with some black people who simply wrote “I only came to the comments section to see the racist comments”. Which was sad because that’s the only reason I was there too.

Here are some of the comments that were written under the post which highlighted a new scheme that was put in place to increase the number of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic coaches.

The scheme is put in place to increase BAME representation on the non-playing side of football. After reading through the article, I thought it was a positive move, yet reading through the comments, maybe I had read the article differently.

Below are some comments made on Facebook. I don’t think that these people read the article properly as it was not about black football managers. It did not say that these coaches would be employed on a full-time basis because they were black.

Unfortunately, it seems that this is how the article and scheme were interpreted.

Don’t agree with ‘positive discrimination’. Dress it up how you like, it’s still discrimination.

If my team made an appointment based on skin colour before merit, I’d be fully against it.

The VAST majority of football fans couldn’t care less if the manager is black, white, alien, or robot. If he’s a good manager, skin colour is irrelevant.

Doing things like this will only increase diversity! You should get where you are in life through merit, not token gestures…..

Whilst we are at it let’s re-run the men’s sprint 100m Olympic Final, shall we? Pretty sure there weren’t an even number represented by race there? Oh wait – they all got into the final on MERIT – thus they deserve to be there…

If there is a job going as a manager and they are 1 person away from the limit for BAME managers, that means they will automatically give it to any BAME manager to get the numbers in line rather than perhaps a more qualified and experienced manager who’s not BAME? That’s sol Campbell sorted then as he’s too crap to manage a team in the prem but too proud to drop the leagues for the experience but to make numbers up now hell be in with a chance

Some interesting points about race not being a qualification for a job. I totally get that. However, it seems to me that the few so-called mediocre professional black managers that we have seem to be not given the same continuous opportunities and second chances that some truly abject white managers are given…I think like all these issues, the answer lies in between the two extremes discussed on this thread. Certainly deserves a proper honest discussion. There is a huge discrepancy between the number of professional black footballers and managers. I do find that quite unusual…

The comments are all very similar. There are a few commentators who see this as a positive move for equality and better representation in the game at all levels.

I’ve never seen one football coach, black or white state that they should be put in a job because of their skin colour, yet this is what the majority of the commentators think! As we aren’t as close to the game, we can only go off people’s experiences that we read. The majority of these people are ex-professional footballers.

These men are determined, passionate and winners. They did the professional job which the majority of us wanted to do. Their hard took them into professional football, which (for the majority) was based on merit. With their knowledge of the professional game, they understand that in order to succeed in anything you need to be good enough,

This always perplexes me whenever I see such a comment from social media commentators, they say it every time! 

But alas, this blog post is not about me ranting, nor is it about looking through the comments from triggered social media users. There have been many interviews with black football coaches talking about their experiences in the game, which I wanted to bring to light on my blog

Recently Raheem Sterling spoke up about the lack of representation of black managers in football and used ex-players as an example. 

“The coaching staff that you see around football clubs: there’s Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, your Sol Campbells, and your Ashley Coles. All had great careers, all played for England.

“At the same time, they’ve all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven’t been given the right opportunities are the two black former players.”

Sol Campbell is an example that many people use online too. In many ways I feel sorry for Campbell, the pressure he was under is crazy. 

He had the pressure of being a high profile football manager but then had double the pressure because he was black. The saying which all black parents said to their kid You need to be twice as good to succeed has never been so appropriate.

Throughout these debates I have online, it seems that the irony of being able to name all of the black men who have managed in the Premier League gets lost on my counterparts.

Upon hearing Sterling’s interview, Frank Lampard responded giving insight into his experiences and his opinion on the landscape too. 

“I think in the actual case of managers, I think he got it, from my point of view, slightly wrong. Those opportunities have to be equal for everybody, I think we all agree on that.

But within that then there are the details of how hard you worked. I certainly worked from the start of my career to try to get this opportunity, and there are a million things along the way that knocks you, set you back, that you fight against.

But with Raheem, the individual comparison, when you don’t have the detail of each person’s pathway, I felt that wasn’t quite right.

And again I’ll level that out slightly because I want to say that Raheem Sterling as a player and as a person and what he’s stood up for over the last two years, I think has been fantastic.”

It has to be said that Frank Lampard comes across very fair in all of his interviews. It would have been good if Lampard had given more insight as to what he believes the barrier of inclusion for black coaches to be. 

By simply stating there are the details of how hard you worked. I certainly worked from the start of my career to try to get this opportunity, and there’s a million things along the way that knocks you, set you back, that you fight against. I doubt that he is implying that black coaches do not work hard, but it can easily be perceived that way.

View from the coaches

Whenever discussing a topic such as this, it is always good to get the perspective of all parties. We’ve seen that the FA has recognised a lack of representation and have started to implement schemes to rectify the situation.

They also introduced their version of the Rooney rule when appointing football coaches and managers for FA positions.

We’ve heard what current player Raheem Sterling had to say while given a brief overview from Frank Lampard.

I’d love to interview a professional black football coach who was a former player and ask them what their feelings are whenever they see comments such as 

Doing things like this will only increase diversity! You should get where you are in life through merit, not token gestures.

Paul Williams is an ex-Premier League player with teams such as Derby, Coventry, and Southampton FC making up his CV.

I won’t paraphrase his whole interview as I think you should take a read of it, but there are some key points that should be taken from the piece.

I wrote to a club when I finished playing,” he tells Sky Sports. “Maybe it was naïve of me but that is how I thought you were supposed to get a job. I got a letter back telling me that I was not qualified. I still have the letter today. It is kind of a motivation for me if I’m honest.

“So I proceeded over the next six or seven years to get my qualifications. I was constantly at St George’s Park doing every course that was going. I have my Pro Licence. I have my advanced youth award. I have all the badges that the Football Association offers.

“Two years ago, I was applying for jobs again and the replies started to come in. Now they were telling me that I was overqualified. You just cannot win, can you?

The interview gives us a real insight into Paul’s experience when looking for a professional coaching job. Evidenced throughout the interview are examples of Paul putting in the work to attain his licenses.

In order to coach or manage at the level he aspires, these badges are necessary. The interview also evidences Paul not allowing setbacks to keep him from reaching milestones. 

However, once meeting the requirements which were previously set for him, he receives feedback saying that he is over-qualified. They are literally moving the goalposts.

Here is a clear example of barriers that were put in front of Paul Williams, and evidence of him knocking those barriers down, yet he wasn’t able to get a job.

Frank Lampard states how hard he has worked to overcome the barriers which were put in front of him. It would have been good to understand what the obstacles were which were put in front of Lampard, so we could see if the two-faced similar obstacles.

Chris Powell had a different path. He was a professional footballer who plied his trade at the highest level. He played for England and at the time of writing is currently a coach to the men’s senior England football team.

Throughout his playing career, he was a leader both on and off the pitch and was captain at various stages throughout his career. He notes that due to this natural ability to get the best out of his teammates, Nigel Pearson encouraged him to get into coaching.

After his final season playing Powell was recruited to the non-playing staff at Leicester FC.

Two black males with aspirations of becoming football managers at the highest level.

Two very different experiences. I would like more stories from former football players to be shared to give greater insight into their experiences.

Hopefully, they are telling their stories to the right people, because organisations such as the Football Association and the Premier League should be aware of the experiences to give them an idea of how to break down these barriers.

Not that it is any of our business, but I’d like it if these experiences were made public, and into big stories. As we need to do our best to educate the general public to give them a better chance of understanding the whole situation and not make uneducated, narrow-minded statements on social media – we can only hope!

#adeptales #stayadept #soadept #blackfootballcoaches #solcampbell #raheemsterling #premierleague #BBCFootball #franklampard #FA #ashleycole 

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