English football clubs who signed a charter to improve diversity in their organisations have failed to meet six of their eight targets over the year to 31 July, with appointments in senior leadership positions declining, the Football Association has revealed.
Results from the second year of the FA’s leadership diversity code show a step change in representation has not been achieved, despite an increased focus on equality by players and organising bodies. Roughly a third of men’s clubs in the top four divisions are yet to sign up to the charter.
Results show that whereas the FA, Premier League and EFL hit almost all the targets set by the voluntary code, clubs have missed the majority. Only targets related to the recruitment of coaches of black, Asian and mixed heritage in the women’s game, and of increasing diversity among senior coaches in the men’s game were achieved this year.
Targets related to the hiring of female coaches in the women’s game and black, Asian and mixed heritage coaches across all coaching roles in the men’s game were not reached, and nor were four targets related to the recruitment of team operations and senior leadership roles.
The figures for appointing black, Asian and mixed heritage candidates and female candidates to club leadership roles were 10.3% and 17.2% respectively, well short of targets of 15% and 30% and down from 17.8% and 19.8% in 2021.
Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the FA, said there had been some signs of progress. There was, he said, “a shift in recruitment processes that will start to change the game and the three governing bodies [exceeded] seven out of eight targets. However, there is still a huge amount of work to be done across the game. We understand that substantive change will take time, but a number of clubs have already made progress, and we expect to see more clubs follow that lead.”
The target missed by the governing bodies related to the fact that no coaches of black, Asian or mixed heritage were appointed by them in the women’s game.
The figures show that the number of clubs signed up to the code has increased from 52 to 60, with all 20 Premier League sides involved. Only 32 of the EFL’s 72 clubs are on board, however. The EFL launched an equality, diversity and inclusion strategy – Together – this autumn and hope that will facilitate quicker change. “We will continue to work collaboratively with clubs and partners to improve our game,” said the EFL’s chief executive, Trevor Birch.
Those within the game who supported the introduction of the code believe that forcing clubs to be transparent about their appointments will keep their actions under scrutiny. But the news will highlight how far football still has to go to make itself representative of the people who play and follow the game.
Last week the Black Footballers Partnership released figures suggesting that only 1.6% of executive, leadership and ownership positions in the Premier League and EFL are held by black people. And whereas 43% of Premier League players are black, the same can be said of only 4.4% of managers across England’s top four divisions. QPR’s Les Ferdinand, a BFP member and the only black sporting director in the English game, said the leadership diversity code had “made no difference whatsoever” in helping black players get jobs in the game.
Delroy Corinaldi, the executive director of the BFP, said: “An organisation like ours was set up because we knew there were gaps in the game that need to be filled if it’s to achieve what it wants to achieve. The game needs to work in partnership with organisations like ours, set up to give the FA a new lens for delivering meaningful change, because the time for gestures is over.”