On the Board | Black Footballers Declare: #NoExcuses

Wes Morgan, Leicester
  • 12 more footballers say ‘We’re Board Ready’ as they graduate On the Board
  • Less than 2% of senior governance and administration positions at governing bodies and professional clubs held by BAME staff
  • At least one black person should be on every sporting board by start of Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022

Six leading figures from professional football have endorsed a campaign that declares ‘No Excuses’ when it comes to appointing more people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities (BAME) to boards of directors. 

The campaign, using the hashtag #NoExcuses on social media, launches today (Wednesday 8th July) as twelve more footballers graduate from the On the Board (OTB) training course. 

Chris Hughton, Les Ferdinand, Nathan Blake, Michael Johnson, Darren Moore and Wes Morgan have advised on and endorsed the #NoExcuses campaign. They are joined by other OTB graduates and a range of supporters across football. 

OTB works to create more diverse British boardrooms by equipping current and ex-professional footballers with the skills to take up roles as directors and non-executive directors when their playing careers wind down. 

OTB is part of the Effective Board Member programme run by Birmingham-based the governance forum (tgf) led by Dr Karl George MBE. OTB is funded by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and actively supported by the Football Association (FA) and a range of partners.

Commenting on #NoExcuses, Karl George said:

“The terrible death of George Floyd and heightened awareness of #BlackLivesMatter have yet again emphasised the need for organisations to really address equality and diversity in governance and leadership.

“Diversity makes Boards better. Boards need to look, feel and operate differently. They need to reflect all communities and draw upon the widest range of skills, experiences and perspectives.

“Extraordinary contributions from Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford have had a quick and significant impact on political decisions and public understanding. Other sportspeople, including Dina Asher-Smith and Lewis Hamilton, have made powerful contributions to the #BlackLivesMatter debate. Their voices make a difference.”

Supporters of #NoExcuses say sport and wider society will remain unequal, unreflective and unrepresentative without change in the Boardroom. Less than 2% of all senior governance and senior administration positions at governing bodies and professional clubs in England are held by staff from BAME backgrounds*. 

#NoExcuses is asking football, all leading sports clubs and governing bodies to make a similar commitment to proposals in the Parker Review of Ethnic Diversity of UK Boards which calls for at least one black person and 30% of women on every FTSE100 board by 2021. #NoExcuses wants the same by the start of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.  

Wes Morgan, Leicester City FC captain, said: 

“We are launching #NoExcuses on behalf of footballers, but this issue is the same across other sectors and other black professionals who Are Board Ready”

Since 2013, 113 people have now graduated from OTB. 41 delegates have had 65 Board appointments (some delegates have had more than one appointment). Over 70 OTB more graduates are waiting for the call up to appropriate Board positions.

Oshor Williams, Assistant Director of Education at the PFA said: 

‘The OTB programme which we have proudly sponsored for seven years has an alumni of talented, trained, governance practitioners committed to progressive change within the game. They now deserve and have every right to expect opportunities to represent and participate in the decision-making processes within football.”

Passing a written exam at the end of the OTB programme results in a qualification accredited by the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners (ACGP), Edinburgh Napier University and Open College Network West Midlands.

The graduation ceremony is usually hosted by the FA at Wembley, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the event will take place on Zoom.