Brendon Batson says football needs a greater BAME presence across the game
Last Updated: 05/10/18 4:41pm
Professional Footballers' Association trustee Brendon Batson has described the lack of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) managers in English professional football as a "disgrace".
Furthermore, former Ipswich assistant manager Terry Connor and former England defender Sol Campbell will have stints with Aidy Boothroyd's U21s set-up.
The FA said these "coaching placements" were part of a three-year strategy to "solve the challenge of under-representation of BAME coaches" and "either active or observation roles" would be found with all of England's teams, male and female, across the age groups.
Batson has been fighting for greater diversity in the game ever since he broke into Arsenal's first team at 18 and he is perhaps best known for being one of West Brom's 'Three Degrees' alongside Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
They tackled racism head on and helped to inspire the thousands of black professional players who have followed. However, progress has been much slower for BAME administrators, coaches and other roles in the game, and there are currently only five BAME managers working in England's top five divisions.
Batson said: "It's a disgrace really that we're still in single figures for black managers after all these years. There have been generations of black players good enough to manage and it's time things changed. But this is also about representation in the whole industry.
"The dugout has the greatest visibility but we want to see more BAME physios, strength and conditioning coaches and ticket-office staff. "Football is still not seen as a go-to employer by the black community. If you go into a club shop you do not see many people from our community."
The union's former deputy chief executive explained that he and fellow PFA trustees Garth Crooks and Paul Elliott took the idea of giving BAME coaches some exposure to international football to the FA last September. Since then, the PFA has helped to identify the right candidates and cover some of the associated costs.
"It really started with the (2017 World Cup-winning) U17s team, which was really diverse, but then if you panned to the bench it was not the same picture," said Batson.
"This was not meant as criticism of any individuals but there was no BAME representation there, which can't be right. "We thought it was really important that the FA, as the governing body, did something about it. We think this idea has legs and we are really positive about it."
As well as the mentoring programme, the FA has also committed to interviewing at least one BAME candidate for all future coaching roles, providing such a candidate applies and meets the selection criteria.
In a statement, the FA's outgoing technical director Dan Ashworth said: "While we recognise English football has a long way to go in boosting diversity across our coaching community, this is a step in the right direction. There are a lot of talented coaches who just need the opportunity.
"I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the PFA for playing a significant role in helping to turn this programme into a reality."