The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Luke Baker

WHEN Mar­cus Big­not was ap­pointed Grimsby Town man­ager in Novem­ber, he be­came just the third black, Asian or mi­nor­ity eth­nic (BAME) boss in the EFL – join­ing Chris Hughton and Keith Curle.

Fig­ures com­piled by Lough­bor­ough Uni­ver­sity ear­lier this sea­son showed that the per­cent­age of BAME coaches in se­nior po­si­tions is only 4.1 per cent.

Yet for­mer Foot­ball League stal­wart and the FA’s cur­rent coach in­clu­sion and diver­sity man­ager, Wayne Al­li­son, is con­vinced the pos­i­tive work go­ing on at grass­roots level will soon im­prove those num­bers.

The FA are pro­vid­ing 200 bur­saries per year, for the next five years, as a con­tri­bu­tion to can­di­dates tak­ing their Level 3 (UEFA B) Coach­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion – with 100 of those bur­saries for BAME males and 100 for fe­males from any back­ground.


Al­li­son also over­sees the FA bur­sary pro­gramme that sup­ports coaches in the pro­fes­sional game work­ing to­wards their Level 4 (UEFA A) and Level 5 (UEFA pro) li­cences.

But, for the ex-Bris­tol City, Sh­effield United and Ch­ester­field striker, grass­roots holds the key to in­creas­ing diver­sity, along­side the likes of Big­not, Hughton (Brighton) and Curle (Carlisle) in the elite ranks.

“It starts at the grass­roots level. We have to build that tal­ent pool,” ex­plained the 48-year-old. “Ob­vi­ously, we want to ad­dress the lack of BAME coaches at the top end, but ev­ery­one comes through the grass­roots.

“They de­serve the op­por­tu­nity to ei­ther be coach­ing at grass­roots or try to bridge that gap to the pro­fes­sional game and take their elite coach­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“There’s un­der-repre- sen­ta­tion and the lack of a tal­ent pool, so we have to build that. That may take a while, but it’s al­ready started.

“I def­i­nitely be­lieve the num­bers of BAME Foot­ball League coaches will in­crease over time be­cause we’ve got some fan­tas­tic coaches in the sys­tem al­ready.

“It’s just a case of pro­vid­ing sup­port, guid­ance, a bit of men­tor­ing or what­ever is needed to give these peo­ple the best op­por­tu­nity.

“We’re sup­port­ing prospec­tive coaches fi­nan­cially, but it’s not just fi­nan­cial sup­port that the coaches, male and fe­male, need.

“It’s sup­port in other ways to get these peo­ple to em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. The qual­ity is good al­ready, so in four or five years it will be even bet­ter.

“A wider, bet­ter-qual­ity pool to choose from will help and it’s only a mat­ter of time. It’s re­ally pos­i­tive at the mo­ment and long may it con­tinue.”

The FA are also run­ning a men­tor­ship pro­gramme, where four mentees spend 12 months work­ing with their tech­ni­cal coach­ing depart­ment, which in­cludes op­por­tu­ni­ties to shadow the in­ter­na­tional age-group coaches.

To try to in­crease the num­ber of BAME em­ploy­ees in the Foot­ball League, the EFL in­tro­duced manda­tory new re­cruit­ment prac­tices for coach­ing po­si­tions in acad­emy foot­ball at the start of the sea­son. Clubs now have to in­clude one suit­ably-qual­i­fied BAME can­di­date on their in­ter­view short­list. Ad­di­tion­ally, ten clubs – Birm­ing­ham, Ful­ham, Hud­der­s­field, Wolves, Ch­ester­field, Coven­try, Mill­wall, Peter­bor­ough, Ac­cring­ton and Carlisle – are pi­lot­ing a Vol­un­tary Re­cruit­ment Code, which ex­tends those re­quire­ments to first-team roles.

The man who was nick­named ‘the chief ’ dur­ing his play­ing days is hope­ful these mea­sures can move foot­ball to­wards more ac­cu­rately re­flect­ing so­ci­ety when it comes to diver­sity.

“It’s about pos­i­tive ac­tion. That’s what we’re try­ing to drive and that’s what the Vol­un­tary Re­cruit­ment Code is all about,” added Al­li­son. “We talk about coach­ing, and things will evolve, but it’s about all em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties within the game. There are thou­sands of op­por­tu­ni­ties where we can im­prove the un­der-rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“There’s a lot of sup­port staff, for ex­am­ple, where the Vol­un­tary Re­cruit­ment will help in ad­dress­ing that, not just in coach­ing. Foot­ball has to re­flect so­ci­ety.

“We can al­ways sit back and be­moan that this or that isn’t hap­pen­ing but we have to do some­thing about it. That’s what we’re try­ing to do and early in­di­ca­tions are pos­i­tive.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

PROGRESS: Wayne Al­li­son, then with Tran­mere, says more black coaches are in the wings

OP­POR­TU­NITY: Mar­cus Big­not

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