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Hughton goes - and then there were none
3:00pm Wednesday 9th April 2014 in Sport
Chris Hughton was sacked as manager of Norwich City on Sunday, and with five games to go it seems a very harsh and strange decision.
Yes, we can talk about the sacking, about the bad timing of it and what a strange decision it seemed.
But for me, his dismissal brought to the surface something more important – the severe shortage of black managers in English football.
While Hughton’s departure had nothing to do with race, it certainly lit up a problem at a managerial level in the English game.
Around 25 per cent of players in the Football League are black, but now there are no black managers, which is a shocking statistic, in my opinion.
You will have to go down as far as the Conference to find former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb, old Crazy Gang striker Marcus Gayle and my former Chelsea teammate Frank Sinclair, who are the highest-placed black managers plying their trade.
Again, I am not suggesting people are being fired because of their race, but I certainly think they are not being hired because of it.
Is there any way to prove or disprove that theory? Well, not unless people openly admit it.
But there is a way to give everyone an opportunity to help change things.
The NFL in America have the ‘Rooney Rule’, which has nothing to do with Wayne Rooney, but states that all teams MUST interview qualified non-white candidates for jobs.
This is not yet in place in English football and I don’t understand why. There have been so many campaigns about race and how we want to move the game forward, but something as vital as this is not in use.
Ex-players are trying to do something about the lack of opportunities for black players.
Last week, former West Brom and Derby defender Darren Moore and ex-Wigan and Reading striker Jason Roberts helped to set up a course called ‘On Board’ with the PFA.
The scheme helps black players or those from ethnic minorities to get the necessary qualifications to apply for roles inside the boardroom.
Former players like Eddie Newton, Les Ferdinand, Nathan Blake and Michael Johnson, to name a few, all qualified from this course last week. And I hope all of them make an immediate impact.
In the 70’s, black players like Cyrille Regis, Viv Anderson, Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham broke down racial barriers so that black players like myself could play with freedom and equality.
It seems the current crop of black managers in the Conference are having to do the same so that the next generation can come through and compete equally for the same jobs.
On February 4, 2007, the Chicago Bears faced Indianapolis Colts in the NFL Super Bowl 41 in Miami. There was only one guarantee prior to kick-off – that a black coach would lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Head coaches Lovie Smith (Bears) and Tony Dungy (Colts) wrote their name in the history books by becoming the first two black head coaches to reach the Super Bowl.
I wonder if I will ever see two black managers lead out teams in an FA Cup final? It doesn’t seem likely, but right now I would just be happy to see a few more black managers on the touchlines.
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