Last night I was invited to a reception hosted by Lord Ouseley to promote anti-racism in all its forms in football. There has been recent debate over the paucity of black managers. The cause is a worthy one and few would question the fact that football is in much healthier state than 24 years ago when Garth Crooks made his Great Britain United dealing with this very issue. As a cub reporter I was given the brief of covering the first showing and formed a immediate rapport with Garth which lasts to this day.
One of the features of the friendship is that we debate issues vigorously without ever falling out. Thus it was that after the reception we adjourned to a local hostelry with Chris Hughton and ex-Arsenal midfielder Paul Davis. I had no fear in stating that there may be all sorts of reasons why a a black footballer does not become a manager, namely the preference of ex-footballers to do media work, at which Garth has excelled for nearly 30 years and the influx of foreign managers, though I was reminded of Jean Tigana and Ruud Gullit. I asked for specific examples of potential young managers who were denied opportunities because of their ethnic origin, I stress ethnic as there are no Asian or Jewish managers. The answer I got was that black footballers do not see a pathway to management. This is fair comment as the old boy network will be principally white, as would be the composition of board of directors. I took the train home still debating the issues in my head and reached the conclusion of no conclusion, other than how healthy it is to have such a debate free of any rancour.