Jason Roberts: ‘There’s open resistance to black managers in England’

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Former Blackburn striker Jason Roberts claims there is “open resistance” from English football clubs to appoint black or minority managers and that the time has come for the government to step in with a solution.

Entering the 2014/15 season there were zero black managers in English football, a number that has since changed slightly with the hiring of Chris Powell at Championship side Huddersfield Town and Keith Curle at League Two club Carlisle United. Yet the point remains the same — there are not enough minority managers in the game and something has to be done, fast.

Roberts’ shout is one that Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers Association, put in place over a year and a half ago and yet still, nothing has been done. Roberts spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live about the issue on Wednesday:

“We have close to 30 percent BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) players yet we went into the season with no black managers,. That is a shocking statistic and things are getting worse.

“Last season we had three or four black managers in the game. We went into this season with none.

“It has been about 30 years since black players were involved in the game en masse and I think we are now at the point where we have to go to the government and go open and public on this.”

The solution, most believe, is to adopt some form of the National Football League’s ‘Rooney Rule’ (named for Dan Rooney), which was established in 2003 and mandates that NFL teams interview at least one black or minority candidate for a head coach’s position or a senior role that becomes available.

“You can see the impact it has had,” Roberts said. “It isn’t a quota system, so it’s not the case that because we have 30 percent black players we have to have 30 per cent black managers. It is just an interview, just to involve people who at this moment in time are not getting an opportunity to be involved in the interview process, to pitch their case to the people who are giving these roles out.”

The last manager of ethnicity in the Premier League was Norwich City’s Chris Hughton, who was fired last March due to his side’s string of poor performances. After his departure Hughton spoke to the issue of minority managers in England, saying: “The percentages of black and ethnic players compared to those in management is a massive gap. We have to make sure we work hard enough to resolve that.”