Premier League and EFL clubs need imposed BAME targets, says football agent Phil Korklin

Football clubs in England should have targets imposed on them to increase levels of diversity in coaching teams and amongst boardroom staff, according to football agent Phil Korklin.

Only six managers across the 91 Football League clubs identify as being from a BAME background, something Korklin, who graduated university with a Masters in Sports Directorship, wants to see change.

He told Sky Sports News: “In the In Pursuit of Progress plan at The FA, they made sure that they were appointing a BAME coach to every single age group and some people said it was a tick box exercise.

“Some people said it wasn’t an open process, but the protests and the Black Lives Matter discussions this week have shown us that we’re way beyond that.

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“The fact is the talent is there, but it’s not getting through, so potentially having a target installed until clubs actually do voluntarily get their levels up, I think is probably the only way.”

Last year the EFL made it compulsory that clubs must interview at least one black, Asian and minority ethnic candidate when looking for a new first-team manager.

The Premier League has yet to bring in a similar rule concerning the process of interviewing for top managerial roles.

Korklin believes the regulations do not go far enough: “If you’re looking at the numbers of footballers from a BAME background it’s between 25 per cent and 30 per cent, but there’s a massive under-representation with managers and in the boardroom.

“If you’re taking the 14 per cent of BAME communities [according to a 2011 census] making up this country then you’re only looking at six per cent for managers and you’re only looking at two per cent in boardrooms, or even less.

“So I think there have to be targets installed because otherwise people and clubs don’t do it themselves.”

Former West Ham forward Carlton Cole has told Sky Sports News that bringing in a football Rooney Rule would help increase the number of people from a BAME background reaching higher ranking jobs within the English game.

The regulation was named after NFL diversity committee chairman Dan Rooney and stipulates that clubs should interview ethnic minority candidates.

Raheem Sterling has also called for football authorities here to address the lack of black representation in positions of power.

Korklin also insists a diversity problem exists in boardrooms at English football clubs, as well as at coaching level.

He added: “If you’ve got a fully white boardroom, you’ve got a racially closed network.

“The fact that they may not have relationships outside of that network, or the universities they went to, or the jobs they worked at, means there’s no diversity there.

“So when they’re looking to appoint someone as a manager, you’re more likely to appoint someone in your own image, within your own relationships and networks.

“If there’s no diverse voice you’re always going to keep going down that same rabbit hole of appointing the same people over and over again.”

Korklin has also studied racial stacking and the centrality theory. Stacking can be defined in a sporting environment as placing players in certain positions based on ethnic stereotypes.

He explained: “If you look back to 20-30 years ago there would have been a huge stereotyping based on where a black player would be put on a football pitch, and where a white player would be put.

“There’s a lot of research in America and in England that shows that black players were, completely incorrectly, categorised as having athletic potential, speed and physical assets. But then the white player was seen as a leader and intelligent on the pitch.

“The unconscious bias that would have developed from then would mean that an athletic player, when they’re then looking to make the transition into the boardroom, management and coaching, would have been seen as players that were on the periphery.

“They weren’t seen as captains, they weren’t seen as leaders, they weren’t seen as intelligent.”

The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ will replace players’ names on their shirts when the Premier League 2019/20 season restarts next week.

A logo representing the movement will also appear on the shirts for the rest of the campaign, along with a badge thanking the National Health Service for their endeavours over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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