English football clubs sign up to new code aimed at promoting diversity

Many football clubs have signed up to the new charter.
Many football clubs have signed up to the new charter. Credit: PA

The majority of clubs across England’s football pyramid have signed up to a new code which is hoped will have a dramatic impact on the levels of diversity off the pitch.

The code is voluntary but clubs have committed to publishing their diversity data and if they don’t hit their targets they’ve agreed to explain publicly why not.

The clubs have signed up to making a quarter of all new coaching positions available to people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and it’s the same for 15% of all new executive positions.

One of the architects of the code is former Chelsea and Celtic player and now chair of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, Paul Elliot. He believes more than ever diversity is at the front of people’s minds.

He said: “The Black Lives Matter movement was great, it was a sign of unity, of symbolism where the players could openly express themselves, their feelings. But what was missing was a cogent, coherent plan that held football to account from the touchline to the boardroom.”

Elliot says there is a huge talent pool that is not being used with nearly 1,000 ethnic minority coaches holding Pro, UEFA A or B licenses. It’s time he says that the ‘little black book’ way of recruitment was ended and opportunities were widened out.

Edleen John the FA Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agrees with Elliot that the jobs for the boys’ mentality needs to be broken up.

“Often jobs and roles have come about by inner networks and in-groups; so somebody knows somebody and they find somebody to fill a role.

"What we’re saying with this code is that we want to make sure we create equality of opportunity for all making sure clubs and football organisations are publishing roles when they’re open, are going through a recruitment process to give everybody an opportunity to apply but also making clear they are committed to having a diverse workforce and that’s something they’re going to focus on and champion, year on year."

The code also addresses gender equality and a commitment from clubs running women’s teams to make 50% of all new roles be given to female applicants.

Also 15% of new positions should filled by people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Currently there are only five ethnic minority head coaches in place across all clubs in the Premier and Football Leagues.