Football Black List shows progress but ‘long way for better representation’ yet

Football Black List co-founder Leon Mann says there is still “a long way to go to see better representation” in the game after the names voted on to the 2022 edition were unveiled.

Those on the list, which highlights leaders working across all areas of the game from the black community, include Brentford non-executive director Deji Davies, the only black board member at a Premier League club, who is also chair of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board.

There is recognition as well for QPR’s Les Ferdinand, the only black director of football in the game, and Football Association board member Jobi McAnuff.

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira, Burnley manager Vincent Kompany, England players Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford and former Lioness Lianne Sanderson also feature.

Mann, who founded the list in 2008 with fellow sports journalist Rodney Hinds, said: “We are delighted to be sharing another incredible and inspirational Football Black List. Black excellence shines so brightly in the game and this list underlines that.

“I am particularly proud to see the list now feature board members, and managers at the top of the game but clearly we still have a long way to go to see better representation in football.

Marcus Rashford (centre) celebrates scoring for England at last year's World Cup (Adam Davy/PA).
Marcus Rashford (centre) celebrates scoring for England at last year’s World Cup (Adam Davy/PA).

“However, we are highlighting those leading the way. We are proud of these individuals and the impact they are making.”

Hinds said: “The mixture of elite and grassroots names on the list is exciting and further underpins the great work that many from our community do within the football industry.”

In October, the FA’s second annual report on the Football Leadership Diversity Code showed English clubs failing to meet its pledged targets.

Vincent Kompany was named Burnley boss last summer (Isaac Parkin/PA).
Vincent Kompany was named Burnley boss last summer (Isaac Parkin/PA).

All Premier League teams and 32 English Football League clubs had signed up to the code, which was introduced in 2020 to increase equality of opportunity and encourage recruitment of diverse talent across senior leadership teams, team operations and coaching set-ups.

While the FA, Premier League and EFL produced strong results and exceeded in seven of the eight targets for the 2021-22 campaign, the clubs signed up to the code saw a drop-off, in particular in the number of senior management hires for both female and black, Asian and mixed heritage candidates.

Just 10.3 per cent of the candidates hired for senior leadership roles at clubs came from black, Asian or mixed heritage background, which dropped below the 15 per cent target.

In terms of coaches hired by men’s clubs, 15.6 per cent from black, Asian or mixed heritage background was below the 25 per cent aim, but a more positive result occurred with regard to senior coaches recruited, with the target of 10 per cent met by a figure of 21.2 per cent.

Along with Davies, Ferdinand and McAnuff, other names from administration on the list are Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango and Sarah Gregorius, FIFPro’s director of global policy and strategic relations for women’s football.

Jamaica striker Andre Gray, formerly of Burnley and Watford and now with Greek side Aris, and Leyton Orient’s Charlotte Lynch are other players that feature.

Former Reading midfielder Jobi McAnuff (Nick Potts/PA).
Jobi McAnuff is an independent non-executive director on the FA board (Nick Potts/PA).

Sanderson, now a television and radio pundit, receives an LGBTQ+ award for work in challenging homophobia in society through football, as does Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s head of ED&I Dr Michael Seeraj.

A panel of experts drawn from the football industry and the black community independently vote on nominations made by the public to determine who makes the list.