Rabbatts wants to see more black managers in top jobs

Sunday 18 Jan 2015
Inclusion Advisory Board chair Heather Rabbatts

FA Board member Heather Rabbatts says work is ongoing to ensure more black managers are given the opportunity for top jobs in English football.

Rabbatts was speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday morning ahead of the release of English Football's Inclusion & Anti-Discrimination Action Plan, which outlines the work being done by the game's key organisations on these issues. 

And Rabbatts, who chairs the Inclusion Advisory Board, explained how the efforts of The FA are aimed at increasing the number of black and ethnic minorities in coaching and administration positions within the game.

“It’s about how we train and support black managers to get elite experience.”

Heather Rabbatts 

“When we talk about a new strategy, it’s actually about pulling a whole series of strands together to ensure all our stakeholders in football are really focused on what we need to do to change the dial around discrimination and inclusion,” Rabbatts explained.

“Whether that’s about trying to ensure we have people who are job-ready, who can sit on boards by supporting a programme we’ve all worked on called ‘On Board’, or whether that’s to ensure that we begin to see much more visible black managers and coaches across the game.

“It’s about constantly trying to hold us all together to be a source of advice, but absolutely ultimately that we can see change happen.”

One of The FA’s key goals is to see more diversity across managers of elite clubs in England.

Rabbatts hopes that in the very near future there will be more than the five black managers who are currently in charge at clubs in the professional game.

She also highlighted an FA initiative aimed at providing minority coaches with the opportunity to gain experience within the England national team set-up.

“There are very few black managers and we know that there are no black managers in charge of any of the academies across all of the clubs,” said Rabbatts.

“It is a major issue, that we all have to focus on and prioritise. Why is it the case? It’s very hard to sum up in a single line.

“But I think football has been what we might call a ‘closed-system’ and we need to open it up and make much more transparent how people are recruited. And I don’t think that’s just about managers and coaches, I think it’s across all the different roles in football.

“The FA is now taking some of the most talented black managers and mentoring them in the Club England structure.”

Heather Rabbatts 

“Whether we are talking about chief execs, or finance, or commercial directors, coaches, people who do the analysis, so that we get diversity across the piece.”

She added: “At the moment we really need to look to see if we can accelerate getting more black managers and coaches.

“For example, within The FA, is now taking some of the most talented black managers and coaches and mentoring and supporting them in the Club England structure.

“The Premier League has got an elite system where they are taking on black coaches and they will then be mentored and supported within the clubs. So we’ve got to find ways where we can open up the system.

“It’s not like the ‘Rooney Rule’, it’s more about how we train and support black managers to get elite experience so they can apply for jobs.

“I’m focused on what we can do this month, next month, next season, so that, hopefully when one comes back to these programmes in a year’s time, we won’t just be talking about the current five black managers we see across the clubs.”

To listen again to Heather Rabbatts' interview on BBC Radio 5's Sportsweek programme, click here

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor