Football League close to own 'Rooney Rule'

The Football League is a step closer to introducing a rule similar to the NFL's 'Rooney Rule'.

The NFL's 'Rooney Rule' has inspired The Football League to take steps aimed at increasing opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) managers and coaches.

That rule was established in 2003 and requires NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operations jobs.

Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers president and architect of that rule, has backed the proposals from Football League chairman Greg Clarke.

League clubs have also given their support.

Among Clarke's recommendations, which may be implemented in 2016-17, were:
- Recruitment practices in Academy football to make it compulsory for clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate (if they apply) for youth development roles requiring a UEFA B coaching licence.

- The League should set a target of 10-20 per cent of those positions to be 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 (if they apply) 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.

In a statement, Clarke said: "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."

Only five black managers are currently employed at the 72 League clubs.