Rooney Rule: PFA calls for ‘loophole’ in EFL appointments to be closed

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo is the only BAME manager in the Premier League, which has not adopted the Rooney Rule

The Professional Footballers’ Association wants a “loophole” in EFL managerial appointments to be closed from next season to ensure diversity.

The union also wants “substantive” diverse representation at board level across football’s key governing bodies.

In 2019, the English Football League adopted a mandatory recruitment code aligned with the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

There are six black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) managers across the 91 clubs in the Premier League and EFL.

The Rooney Rule means clubs must interview at least one BAME candidate for a managerial vacancy.

But EFL clubs are only obliged to follow this when there is a short-listing process and more than one candidate is interviewed, not when clubs target specific managers.

With 70% of the current EFL managers appointed during the season, when a full recruitment process is less likely, the PFA’s equalities coach Iffy Onuora said this potentially means clubs “miss the opportunity to use the rule as it is intended”.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sport, the former Swindon manager said: “That for me has got to be looked at. Is it mutually exclusive that you want a quick appointment but you don’t run a recruitment process?

“Can you not do both? Is there a way to marry both those things? I understand and I’ve been there myself as an ex-manager and probably benefited at one point from needing to make an appointment quite quickly that someone might step into those shoes on a caretaker basis, if that club has the foresight to do that.

“But then behind-the-scenes there can be a recruitment process going ahead.”

When the EFL introduced the policy last summer, it said at the time it hoped it would “help address the under-representation” and would be “mandatory when clubs consider multiple applicants for a role”.

The EFL will not gather data for the full season until it is completed but the early indications are that since the recruitment code came in, 60% of appointments have followed an open recruitment process.

Earlier this week, Kick It Out’s Troy Townsend told BBC Sport: “I’m not saying clubs are not following a process but they aren’t nailed on to a process because there is a little bit of a loophole there. You aren’t going to be held accountable. It’s like dipping your toes in without going to swim.”

And several high-profile players, including Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, have called for greater diversity in the hierarchy of sports organisations.

Football ‘still very slow’ to combat racism – Townsend

The Premier League has not adopted the ‘Rooney rule’.

The players’ union told BBC Sport that they consider “necessary first steps” to be BAME representation on the EFL Recruitment Code steering group by January 2021 and “substantive” BAME representation on the boards of the Football Association, EFL, League…

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