Off-field representation remains a key issue within professional football, with diverse candidates rarely being appointed to managerial or head coach positions. Facing similar issues in American football, the NFL adopted the Rooney Rule in 2003, which required all clubs to interview at least one Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidate for each head coach or managerial role.
That same year, the PFA proposed adopting a similar programme in English football and worked hard for over a decade to ensure its subsequent adoption by the English Football League (EFL).
In 2016/17, an adaptation of the rule was run as a pilot scheme with a voluntary code involving 10 EFL clubs agreeing to interview at least one BAME candidate for any first-team managerial, coaching or youth development positions. We later welcomed its mandatory adoption as the Recruitment Code for all 72 EFL clubs in 2019.
Unfortunately, the scheme did not yield the desired outcome, with recruitment practices remaining largely unchanged.
In 2020, we helped develop The FA’s Leadership Diversity Code, another voluntary programme, which this time secured the support of more than 40 clubs.
Each club has adopted the code as part of a commitment to tackling inequality in the football recruitment process. The code covers management and coaching, while also setting specific recruitment targets for greater diversity across all senior leadership positions.
The PFA committed to supporting the code by recommending qualified candidates and continuing to prepare current and former players for senior leadership positions. We have also committed to keeping clubs accountable by monitoring how they adopt the code.