English Football League embraces BAME representation and supporter engagement

English Football league (EFL) clubs agreed a number of proposals at their AGM in Portugal last week including formal arrangements for supporter engagement and measures to tackle under-representation of coaches from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The issue of the inclusion of Premier League Academy teams in the competition formerly known as The Johnstone Paints Trophy will be discussed in a separate article.

Supporter engagement

From 2016/17 all clubs will be required to hold at least two meetings with a representative group of the club's supporters. The meetings must be between senior club representatives and, if the meeting is going to be with a small group (presumably this means not an open meeting), then those representing supporters should have been elected to do so in line with democratic principles (eg supporter's trusts).  Supporters Direct (the umbrella group for supporters' trusts) has commented:

"We believe this will be a progressive step forward which will benefit clubs, supporters, the community and the game as a whole and commend the EFL and its member clubs for taking this decision.

Of course some clubs are already excelling in their relationship with supporters, but for others this will provide the comfort that a base line of dialogue will be in place and cemented in the league rulebook."

BAME Under-representation

Clubs will be required to advertise for a minimum of seven days any position within their Academy that requires the candidate to hold a UEFA A or B coaching badge. Clubs MUST include at least one suitably qualified BAME candidate (where an application has been received) on the interview shortlist. The eventual appointment must be made on the basis of merit alone and clubs must provide details of the recruitment to the EFL, including the number of BAME applicants and interviewed candidates. An internal candidate can be promoted without applying the above process provided that the position vacated by that candidate is subsequently filled using the process.

If clubs are recruiting for any first team management or coaching role in the close season they will be expected (ie this is not mandatory) to run a full recruitment process (as above) and interview one or more BAME candidate if applications have been received.  During the season they will not be expected to run a full recruitment process but, if they do, they will be expected to interview one or more BAME candidate if an application has been received.

A number of clubs will be piloting this voluntary recruitment code during 2016/17 including Chesterfield, Coventry, Millwall and Peterborough in League One.

EFL departing chairman Greg Clarke said:

"It is clear to us that we currently have under-representation of BAME managers and coaches at club level and it is therefore right to take proportionate action to ensure the best talent from all backgrounds is given a fair opportunity to enter and progress through the system."