The recommendations were developed after a six-month process of engagement with sports and inclusion campaign organisations in the UK and abroad including The FA, the Premier League, PFA, LMA, Kick it Out, the Sports People's Think Tank and NFL.
The League’s proposals have also received the backing of Dan Rooney, the Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the architect of the NFL’s 'Rooney Rule’. During Clarke’s presentation at The Football League Owners’ and Executives’ Conference 2015, clubs heard from Rooney himself on the challenges faced by the NFL before the introduction of the Rule in 2003 and its subsequent impact. Rooney also welcomed The Football League’s proposals and urged clubs to give them their support.
The League will now engage in dialogue with clubs and stakeholder organisations with the aim of finalising the proposals in time for a formal vote at their 2016 Annual General Meeting ahead of potential implementation in 2016/17.
Following a review of all matters relating to the under representation of BAME managers and coaches that began in October 2014, Clarke presented the following recommendations.
The Football League should:
- Introduce mandatory new recruitment practices in Academy football that would make it compulsory for clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate (where an application has been received) for all youth development roles requiring a minimum of a UEFA B coaching licence. The League should also set a target of between 10% and 20% (to be agreed in due course) of these positions being filled by BAME coaches by 2019.
- Adopt a Voluntary Recruitment Code for first-team football under which clubs would commit to interview a BAME candidate (where an application has been received) for any managerial or coaching position except in the specific instance of an individual being recruited from another club on terms agreed between the two parties. It is anticipated this would be piloted by five to 10 clubs during 2016/17 ahead of wider adoption.
- Work with relevant stakeholders to introduce processes aimed at identifying current BAME coaches and players with the potential and aspiration to coach in professional football. This would include the creation of a ‘ready-list’ of qualified candidates to be used by clubs when recruiting.
- Cooperate with stakeholders to upskill potential candidates and provide suitable networking opportunities with club decision makers.
Football League Chairman Greg Clarke said: "I would like to thank our clubs for giving me a mandate to continue this important work. I’m also grateful to Dan Rooney and the NFL, as well as other well informed and intentioned stakeholders for the support they have given us during this review.
"It is important that The Football League takes the lead in this area as our 72 clubs will provide the majority of employment opportunities and that football's other stakeholders support our initiative.
“I am in no doubt, whatsoever, that our clubs make employment decisions for managerial and coaching positions on the basis of merit alone. They do so because they believe the relevant individuals are the right people to take their club forward.
"However, it is also apparent that this is an industry that places great value on previous experience and personal relationships which can sometimes act as a barrier to those that are less able to get a foot in the door.
“These proposals are intended to try and address such issues, which seem to disproportionately affect those from a BAME background, while at the same time leaving employment decisions solely in the hands of clubs, as it should always be for them to decide who they wish to employ."
Dan Rooney said: "I am encouraged to see The Football League taking inspiration from the work of the NFL while creating a programme of measures that are tailored to the specific challenges facing English soccer.
“I hope these proposals make the same impact in England that the Rooney Rule has in the NFL.”