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Why aren't there more black football managers?

journal contribution
posted on 16.04.2013, 13:58 by Ellis Cashmore, Jamie Cleland
The number of black and minority ethnic (BME) managers in English professional association football, or soccer, has been stable for nearly ten years: there are usually between two and four (out of a possible ninety two). Yet black players regularly make up more than a quarter of professional club squads. The reasons for this apparent under-representation are explored among 1,000 football fans, including players and ex-players, both white and BME. Opinions were solicited via an online research platform, designed and executed by the authors. The findings indicate 56 per cent of respondents believe racism operates at the executive levels of football, i.e. the boardroom. While some accuse club owners and directors of deliberate discrimination, most suspect a form of unwitting or institutional racism in which assumptions about black people's capacities are not analysed and challenged and so continue to circulate. Among the possible remedies to this is the American National Football League's Rooney Rule, which mandates BME candidates’ inclusion on shortlists for senior coaching positions. A third of participants in the research approved of this type of initiative. While black managers are scarce when compared to the number of black players in professional football, their presence is actually an accurate reflection of their number in the total British population. So is the dearth of black managers an under-representation?



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


CASHMORE, E. and CLELAND, J., 2011. Why aren't there more black football managers? Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34 (9), pp. 1594 - 1607.


© Taylor & Francis


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Closed access. This article was published in the journal, Ethnic and Racial Studies [© Taylor & Francis] and the definitive version is available at: