The Premier League has no plans to follow the Football Association and Football League in implementing the Rooney Rule for recruitment of BAME managers, the Guardian understands.
Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has gained significant traction since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May, and the issue of how best to offer backing when competitive action restarts next week is likely to be raised at the top-flight clubs’ next meeting on Thursday. But the league will not react by bringing in the Rooney Rule, which would require clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate when hiring a manager, and instead plans to develop other anti-racism work.
That includes the BAME advisory group, which was launched last October to “ensure the views of BAME players and coaches are heard” and is chaired by the former West Brom manager Darren Moore. The eight-member group has met three times in the past three weeks, discussing issues that include the increased risk of Covid-19 in BAME players; the deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam sat in on one such discussion. Specifically to management, the league’s BAME and female coach initiative has operated since 2015 and offers nine places each year on its elite coach apprenticeship scheme.
The FA adopted the Rooney Rule, first used in American sports, in January 2018 and the EFL followed suit last year. But it has been questioned in some quarters, with the Kick It Out head of development, Troy Townsend, expressing concerns it does not carry enough weight and Dwight Yorke describing the policy as “a joke” in an interview this week, suggesting its implementation has been vanishingly rare.
Nuno Espírito Santo, the Wolves head coach, is the only BAME manager working in the Premier League. Kick It Out’s chair, Sanjay Bhandari, said: “The lack of black coaches in the English game is a deep and persistent problem so will require multiple solutions. There is no magic wand. We have a different culture, legal framework and employment practices in England so the Rooney Rule was always going to need to be adapted.
“That is what the EFL have done and they are cautiously optimistic that it is working but recognise that it is very early days. So, this is not about tearing up an experiment and starting again. That will take us backwards. It should be about working with the leagues and aspiring black coaches and seeing how we constantly improve the system and constantly monitor the data.
“The Rooney Rule itself in the US was not an instant universal answer and they did not get it right first time. But we also need to look at the other interventions that will support the overall ambition. We need more ‘whole-system’ thinking and will likely need other interventions that disrupt and penetrate the established networks where coaching careers are made.”