PFA Charity Trustee Brendon Batson has appealed to Richard Scudamore and the 20 Premier League chairmen to address racial discrimination in English football by introducing a model similar to the 'Rooney Rule' used in America.
The Rooney Rule was introduced in 2003 by the NFL to ensure minority coaches are on the interview lists for job vacancies. It states clubs must interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate when appointing a new head coach.
Batson was speaking at the unveiling of a statue of Arthur Wharton, the first black footballer, at St George's Park. He called for the Football Association, where he works as an adviser on equality, to take the lead, regardless of the Premier League's views by addressing under-representation in its development teams.
In 2011, the Premier League chief executive Scudamore said “If people are good enough, then they will get chances.”. A similar view was taken by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho this week who said: “There is no racism in football – if you are good, you get the job.”
Responding to those comments, Batson, who is a pioneer for black footballers in England said: “I say the numbers don’t lie. A few years ago we had about six or seven, including Jean Tigana, Ruud Gullit, Keith Alexander, Leroy Rosenior, people like that. We have now got two Chris Powell at Huddersfield and Keith Curle at Carlisle, so we are going south.
“I have got no proof of racism whatsoever. But something is going on and I don’t believe it’s good enough to say: ‘If you’re good enough, you’ll get there.’ As black players, our talent could not be denied because it was out there, in your face. At the moment there is an exclusion; you can’t even get an interview. You are not seeing the numbers.”
“There is another model out there and we should learn from that. We shouldn’t just dismiss the Rooney Rule and go: ‘It doesn’t suit us.’ Our model would be different. But I’ll tell you what would be great, if Scudamore and his 20 chairmen got up and said: ‘We need to do something different.’ What that is I’m not suggesting. But they need to do something different. They can’t keep going the same way year in, year out, going: ‘If you’re good enough, you’ll get there.’ Because there are good people out there.”
The PFA has lobbied for the introduction of an English adaptation of the Rooney Rule since 2011, with PFA chief Executive Gordon Taylor adding recently that football suffers from “a hidden racism which holds clubs back” when it comes to appointing black managers. Batson believes there is a “mood” that needs to be seized upon. He described Wharton’s statue as a catalyst for change and urged the FA to set the standard for others to follow.
“We’ve got the 24 national teams here, the home of England’s football teams, there are numerous employment opportunities, and the FA need to grasp that opportunity and show the Premier League and the Football League that positive action can bring positive results.
“I think the FA can lead on this. The Premier League are the bullies in the playground, we know that. But the FA have got a role to play and I think can take some real positive action with their development teams."