Why does the NFL Rooney Rule mean offside to the English Premier League?

The American national sport football, has long since looked across the pond at its namesake and wondered why the halftime had no entertainment and the coverage was only 3 hours for some of the largest matches of the season.

The English premier league has also peaked across the Atlantic and wondered how the national sport can have only 1 winner every year (Superbowl) and those winners be called world champions, I mean who else does this grid Iron thing professionally? apart from North America and Canadian leagues? 

Enough of the nuances of both sports, the one concept that has sparked debate in both the halls of the FA and the chambers in the house of parliament is the controversial 2003 Rooney Rule.

“The Rooney Rule is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is an example of affirmative action, even though there is no hiring quota or hiring preference given to minorities, only an interviewing quota. It was established in 2003, and variations of the rule are now in place in other industries.”(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Associated Press. Retrieved September 15, 2007.)

To break this down further a person of ethnic minority must be considered for an interview for vacant head coach or senior executive roles in the NFL. There is not a requirement to hire said person, but provide the opportunity to be seen and interviewed. 

The stats portray that at its peak in 2006 22% of NFL head coaches were from Minority backgrounds from the original 6%. Fast forward 14 years 2020 saw 3 Afro American coaches out of 32 teams the same number as 2003 when the rule was first started. (Killion, Ann (January 8, 2020)

So, what has this got to do with the English premier league? 

The Rooney Rule was introduced in the football league in 2019. The Premier league opted against implementing the rule and perusing other anti-racism initiatives.

*In 2020 there were 6 black or non-white coaches out of the 92-team football pyramid*, considering 25% of the players in the premier league and football league are black, the numbers do not add up. (Rick Kelsey, June 2020 BBC Newsbeat) 

Let’s park the stats for a moment. Walk with me.

If I wanted to be a professional football player and I am from an Afro Caribbean background or mixed-race heritage I have hundreds of examples of players that have become household names from Rio Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Sol Campbell and Paul Ince to Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Trent Alexander Arnold to name a few.

Managers on the other hand? Who could I reference as a main stream success that will inspire the next generation of managers, not players.

 On first glance the numbers are thin. Opportunity and ability need to be in the same room for black managers to really shine.  Some managers in my opinion had the ability but not the opportunity and others controversially may have had an opportunity but were lacking the raw ability. Without the prior experience, how do you get the experience? And if offered the chance to coach at the highest level who would really turn this down? Classic catch 22.

Darren Moore,  Hayden Mullins, Alex Dyer, Keith Curle, Patrick Viera, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink   are all black coaches and managers in the football league. The pressure is on to be the first  black manager to really pave the way for the next generation of young people who will confidently and  actively look to apply for these coaching  roles with knowledge and evidence  that it is possible to succeed.

The question is do we need the Rooney rule in the premier league to accelerate the work of the black managers in the football league?

It’s a close one…

We will have to go to the pitch side monitor.