Talking Point: A place for the Rooney Rule?
After the PFA and the black footballers who refused to wear the 'kick it out` t-shirt last weekend eventually sat down during the week, we have finally seen the emergence of the six point plan which aims to bring further equality into the English game.
One of those points is to bring the Rooney rule into English football throughout the divisions. The rule is named after Dan Rooney, chairman of American NFL side the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2003, Rooney persuaded all the other NFL franchises to adopt a compulsory system that requires franchises to interview at least one candidate for the coach or managers role when a vacancy becomes available. Rooney was able to persuade the other NFL franchises to sign up to this rule and since has seen the number of black coaches soar in the American game. But what of the practicalities of it in the English game?
In reality, the Rooney Rule would be able to be implemented into football without the actual stipulations of the rules needing to be adjusted. It would mean that when a manager`s job at an English club becomes available, it would mean that the club would have to interview one candidate from an ethnic minority background, whether that`s black, Asian or any other ethnic minority background.
The basis for this argument centres around the perceived lack of black managers plying their trade in our football league at the moment. Out of the 92 football league clubs in the 2012/13 season, only three employ black managers; Chris Hughton at Norwich City, Chris Powell at Charlton Athletic and Keith Curle at Notts County. Outside of that few black managers have been given an opportunity to ply their trade in our game. Only John Barnes, Paul Ince and Keith Alexander, before his untimely death, had managed recently in our game.
The real crux of the argument is whether the Rooney Rule would bring a change and whether clubs should be forced into adopting the things that the rule requires. I`m not so sure I would like to see the Rooney Rule adopted into the English game, mainly because it forces every club into the same procedure to hire a manager.
I am certainly for black managers being given an equal chance as everybody else, but I do not think forcing clubs to adopt the same way of appointing managers is going to particularly help. I would perhaps like to see clubs encouraged to give black managers interviews. Perhaps maybe go as far as incentivising them to give interviews to different managers, but asking clubs to go through a slow interviewing process will not work throughout the season.
There are lots of situations where clubs are looking to appoint a manager over a summer, an international break or in a situation where they can afford to take their time. In those circumstances I would like to see more opportunities for black managers.
But there are other times when a club is looking to change manager quickly, to perhaps boost short term results towards the end of the season and keep a club up, or they change manager because a certain manager has become available, Notts Forest and Steve McClaren anybody! In these types of situations a slow interview process is pointless and potentially harms the clubs results. Given that situations like this can and do occur through a season, I think it is totally wrong to force a club down the Rooney Rule route.
Another reason I would be against it happening would be the reaction to what will inevitably be a slow and gradual process. Even if the Rooney Rule is brought in tomorrow, it is my expectation that people will expect to see black managers start becoming of managers of Championship clubs or higher. People must be realistic about how these processes work. Black managers have very little managerial experience between them. They are highly unlikely to be getting a Premiership job as their first job in football.
I would be concerned if the rule was brought in there would be a backlash of disappointment if things did not happen quickly enough. After all it does not guarantee anybody a job, just an interview. And if a club really wants you as manager they will ask to interview you, not be forced into it to tick a box. If that was the case you are unlikely to get the job anyway.
What do YOU think about the Rooney rule? Let us know by commenting below!