The new season will begin with a record-equalling number of black and ethnic minority managers in England’s top four divisions – but with warnings that more work is still needed.
Patrick Vieira’s appointment by Crystal Palace earlier this month made him the eighth manager of colour among the 92 clubs.
That followed Premier League rivals Tottenham appointing former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo while at the other end of the Football League, Hayden Mullins earned the Colchester job on a full-time basis after a spell as caretaker last season.
While matching the record total achieved in two spells in 2018 and 2019, eight managers is still less than nine per cent of the league while statistics on the length of managerial reigns indicate black managers are not given as long on average as their white counterparts.
There are currently two ethnic minority managers in each of the four divisions, with Valerien Ismael swapping one Championship side, Barnsley, for another when appointed by West Brom this summer while Chris Hughton is in charge of Nottingham Forest.
Darren Moore’s Sheffield Wednesday were relegated to League One where he joins Burton’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on the sidelines, while Mullins and Oldham boss Keith Curle provide the representation in League Two.
Mullins told the PA news agency: “This is probably the best it has been but there is still room for improvement, definitely. The first port of call is to get more coaches from black and ethnic minority backgrounds onto the courses.”
Hughton is the longest-serving black manager in the league having been appointed in October 2020 and research by the PA news agency covering the Premier League era shows the average length of tenure for black managers is just 473 days, compared to 655 for all other managers – around 28 per cent shorter.
And Jobi McAnuff, who was interim manager of Leyton Orient at the end of last season, told the PA news agency upon his appointment: “When you look at the statistics for black managers, they are certainly given less chance and I think also when you look at the next job after the first one, they certainly don’t have enough opportunities when the next one comes up.”
While no full, definitive data on this issue has been compiled – the League Managers Association is “in the process of undertaking both quantitative and qualitative research in this area”, according to a statement given to PA in March – PA’s research indicates that last season saw the highest proportion to date of ethnic minority appointments at 15.1 per cent with a record eight new jobs for black managers.
That trend has continued, with Nuno and Vieira among six appointments this term – a season is defined for these purposes as running from July 1 one year to June 30 the next, with 2019-20 and 2020-21 adjusted for the scheduling effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Mullins and Ismael’s appointments came before that cut-off.
The high water mark prior to last season was just over 10 per cent of new appointments, seven out of 69, in 2014-15 while the 2003-04 season stands out as a low point, with zero out of 53.
Dino Maamria’s appointment at Stevenage on March 20, 2018 first took the number of black and ethnic minority managers to eight, until Jack Lester’s departure from Chesterfield just over a month later. The pair were joined by Nuno at Wolves, Hughton at Brighton, Chris Powell at Southend, Jose Morais at Barnsley and Curle at Carlisle, with Hasselbaink in charge of Northampton up to April 2 and Moore appointed by West Brom the following day.
Morais and Curle left their roles that May but Curle joined Northampton in the October and Sol Campbell’s November appointment at Macclesfield took the total back up to eight, until Moore left Albion in March 2019. The mark was achieved again last season, from Mullins’ appointment until McAnuff’s Orient exit.