After the sacking of Chris Hughton there is not one black manager in all four divisions. Another Chris, Chris Powell the popular manager of Charlton, was sacked a few months ago. Robin Scott-Elliot argued in yesterday’s Independent that there should be an affirmative discrimination programme, as they have in the NFL, called the Rooney Act – see here THE INDEPENDENT
Leaving aside the ethical arguments of discrimination v meritocracy for one moment, I cannot see how such a programme would ever be successfully imposed.
Chris Hughton was not sacked because of the colour of his skin. It is universally accepted that he is a decent guy and, having known him for 24 years, I can confirm this is so. It was typical that, when he received my consolation text, he was more interested in how I was and in my house move. However, he has lost the last 7 away games and, if Norwich were to lose at Fulham this Saturday, they would only be 2 points ahead of the London side with a trickier run-in. It was a pragmatic, if possibly flawed, decision as his replacement Neil Adams had no experience at this level. The fans agitated for the sacking too, but race was never an issue with them. Why should it be?
The Scott-Elliot argument is that 25% of players are now black and this should be reflected in managers and coaches too. I don’t buy this. Chris Hughton was probably the most successful black manager. Others like Paul Ince, Terry Connor and Jean Tigana, could not hack it at the top. Nothing to do with colour or any racial stereotyping – simply not good enough. Further do all black players want to be managers? Some may be returning to their own country after a career here and others simply may not fancy it. Just like white players. Sol Campbell, in promoting his book, suggested being black was the reason he was never England captain. David Beckham was better suited, as was Alan Shearer, in terms of leadership and personality and both – it could be argued – have given more to the game. Sol Campbell, whilst a superb defender, is also remembered for running down his Spurs contract to get the best deal from Arsenal.
Over twenty years ago, Garth Crooks made a ground breaking documentary Great Britain United on the lack of black coaches. Ron Noades expressed the view that you need the white man to get you through winter. This film exposed brazen racial stereotyping but thankfully we have moved on from racist chants on the terraces and a black man, provided he has the talent, gets the same deal. That Garth Crooks was Chairman of the PFA and a BBC analyst and reporter at a time of less diversity is the best possible proof that you can succeed in football whatever the colour of your skin.