Football League clubs to adopt “Rooney Rule” ?


In a statement released last Thursday The Football League announced that clubs had backed a series of proposals designed to increase employment opportunities for black and ethnic minority candidates.  The proposals will be finalised before being put to the vote at the League’s 2016 AGM.

The proposals are loosely based on the so called “Rooney Rule” which was established in 2003 and named after Dan Rooney, owner of The Pittsburgh Steelers NFL club.  This rule requires all NFL clubs to interview at least one black or ethnic minority candidate for head coaching and football operation opportunities as part of a transparent and open recruitment process.

Football League Chairman Greg Clarke received the backing of clubs at The Football League Owners’ and Executives Conference held in Portugal.

He said: “ It is 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 BME 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”

The proposals include:

  • Five to ten clubs will pilot a “voluntary recruitment code” to interview a BME candidate for ANY first team managerial or coaching position
  • Clubs must interview at least one BME candidate for ALL youth development roles requiring a minimum of a UEFA B coaching licence.
  • A “ready-list” will be created of identified current BME coaches and players “with the potential and aspiration to coach in professional football” and networking opportunities will be improved.

Lord Herman Ousely  - Chair of Kick It Out -  welcomed The Football League’s historic decision:

“We commend Football League clubs for backing proposals to install open and transparent recruitment processes aimed at increasing the level of black, Asian and minority ethnic representation in management and coaching positions.”

Last November Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore said there was no need for England’s top flight to adopt the rule after its twenty clubs voted to introduce new measures designed to increase top-flight coaches from BME backgrounds.