Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said that efforts to improve diversity in English football’s top flight do not include plans to adopt the Rooney Rule after insisting it is “not on the agenda.”
Named after Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Rooney Rule was established in 2003 by the NFL as a policy which required teams to interview minority candidates for coaching positions.
Other sports have since implemented the rule, but despite the EFL — the three-division league which feeds into the Premier League — becoming the first European football league to adopt the Rooney Rule in Jun 2019, the Premier League has chosen not to adopt it.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo is considered the only minority coach in the Premier League. And there are currently just six minority managers or coaches among the 91 Prem and EFL clubs. But despite calls for greater efforts to be made to ensure more diversity, Masters has said the Rooney Rule will not be adopted anytime soon.
“So far we haven’t discussed it [the Rooney Rule],” Masters told reporters during a Skype interview. “It hasn’t been a topic of discussion and we have no plans to put it back on the agenda.
“I think there are discussions to be had, but no current plans to put that back on the agenda.
“Lots of organisations have diversity targets and we all consider them. There is going to be an ongoing dialogue with clubs about discrimination generally and I think it’s an important topic.
“What’s most important is that there are no barriers to entry. The pipelines for employment in coaching are free.”
Despite ruling out the implementation of the Rooney Rule in the Premier League, Masters concedes that there needs to be a greater representation of minority coaches in one of most high-profile sporting leagues in the world.
“We clearly need more BAME coaches and more black coaches entering the scheme at the bottom,” he said. “This will create a greater pool and a greater opportunity at the higher levels of the pyramid.
“Clubs do [have the power to make a change] but they are also their own businesses and there are certain things that we get involved with and, obviously, we’re going to have a discussion with them about it.
“We have our BAME participants group, which is a group of current and recently-retired players and managers and that has been incredibly useful for us.
“What we really want to have is a series of policies and procedures in place and campaigns. But backing those campaigns up with programmes and making progress in this area and getting feedback from the players is really important so we can stand alongside them and have confidence in what football is doing.
“But I don’t want to set targets on the hoof. All I can say is that we are totally committed to that dialogue and will be following that up with our clubs.”
Masters’ comments come a week after the Premier League sanctioned displaying the words “Black Lives Matter” on the back of shirts in place of individual players’ names and voiced its support to players who want to take a knee following the resumption of fixtures next week.
The league also will require teams to wear a Black Lives Matter patch for the remainder of the 2019-20 season in a show of support for racial justice following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man, who died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes in Minnesota. Floyd’s death has spurred demonstrations against racial injustice around the world.