A Game Changer? The Use of Positive Action to Address Racial Disadvantage within Professional Football Coaching
AuthorsCowell, Sophie L.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis research considers the use of positive action to address the underrepresentation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) managers and coaches within English professional football. It focuses on the English Football League’s (EFL) Recruitment Code as an example of such a measure and explores whether the Recruitment Code can be considered an effective or flawed form of positive action to redress the racial inequalities faced by BAME managers and coaches. Twenty-five percent of professional footballers within the English professional leagues are BAME, significantly higher than the general BAME population within the United Kingdom of 14% (Sports People’s Think Tank ‘SPTT’, 2015). Despite this, the number of BAME managers and coaches employed within senior positions in professional football remains disproportionately low at 4.6% (SPTT, 2017). At the beginning of the 2016/17 season, the EFL introduced a positive action measure requiring clubs to interview at least one candidate from a BAME background for coaching and management positions (EFL, 2017). Whilst there exists a body of research into the experiences of BAME managers and coaches and barriers to their career progression, the issue is still largely unexplored from an anti-discrimination law perspective (Veuthey, 2013). Further, research on the EFL’s Recruitment Code is limited. This research aims to fill this gap, by utilising a mixed-methods approach to explore stakeholder perceptions of positive action and the EFL’s Recruitment Code as a form of positive action. It considers the extent to which the Recruitment Code may fit within the legal framework and whether it may demonstrate the legislative approach of reflexive regulation working effectively. This research identified several barriers to BAME manager and coach career progression, including higher standards, extra pressure, lack of role models, the recruitment practices used, and the specificity of football. It found that whilst most participants within this research supported the use of positive action, they perceived significant confusion between positive action and positive discrimination amongst the general public. On the EFL’s Recruitment Code, participants pointed to a lack of transparency and a general lack of understanding, believing the Code would not succeed in isolation and should form part of a package of measures. When considered in light of reflexive regulation, participants also pointed to factors including a perceived lack of consultation, monitoring and enforcement that suggest that features of successful reflexive regulation, as outlined by Hepple (2011), are missing. However, some participants commended the EFL for implementing the measure in light of this perceived lack of understanding of, and support for, positive action. This thesis provides Pointers for Action at Micro (Club), Meso (Sector) and Macro (National Policy) Levels, including the need for greater education and awareness, transparent monitoring and senior buy-in, as well as a need to rephrase the concept of positive action. The thesis outlines how the EFL’s Recruitment Code has the potential to be successful if introduced as part of a holistic life cycle approach to addressing underrepresentation, but in its current format can be considered a flawed form of positive action that is unlikely to redress the racial disadvantage that BAME managers and coaches face. It concludes by detailing the impact that a successful positive action measure within such a high-profile arena could have on both football and the use of positive action generally, if the EFL’s Recruitment Code is adapted in line with the suggested implications and pointers for action.
CitationCowell, S. L. (2021). A game changer? The use of positive action to address racial disadvantage within professional football coaching [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
The following license files are associated with this item:
- Creative Commons
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
A sociological investigation in to the dynamic power balance between the Football League and Football Association: Using the Football League Cup as a window for explorationBloyce, Daniel; Hopkins, Gareth (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2008)This thesis suggests that the Football League Cup was introduced as part of a wider social policy to challenge the Football Association’s position in power. Therefore, testing the figurational perspective and, using the Football League Cup as a window for exploration, this thesis has investigated the dynamic power relationship between the Football Association and Football League and, later, on to the emerging relationship with international football governing bodies – FIFA and UEFA. Therefore, this investigation has; (1) Traced the development, sociologically, of the Football League Cup and; (2) investigated the fluctuating relationship between differing football governing bodies. Such analysis is unique in that academics have failed to recognise the sociological significance in that football is the only sport in England governed by two separate authorities and, as such, this is the first dedicated investigation of its kind. Furthermore, this is the first sociological study to examine England’s ‘secondary’ football cup competition – the Football League Cup. Documentary analysis was the chosen research method for investigation. Specifically, to investigate the controversy surrounding the Football League Cup, newspaper analysis was conducted using two online resources – The Times Digital Archive and NewsBank Info Web. To help understand the shifting power balance between the FA and Football League, research took place at the FA headquarters in Soho, London – here, a systematic analysis of FA minutes and literature within the FA library took place. This thesis has identified that the Football League Cup was introduced as part of an ulterior motive to challenge the position of the Football Association. In fact, this dissertation highlights that the FA have been in conflict with other associations since before their advent in 1863. Furthermore, this investigation has contradicted the claim, made by some, that the Football League Cup is ‘pointless’ or ‘worthless’. In fact, this investigation has found that the Football League cup has proven to be extremely useful to the lesser sides that have a second opportunity to draw a ‘bigger’ club (as they already have this opportunity in the FA Cup) and, also, the tournament is an important asset to the Football League who were able to use the competition as a ‘tool’ for negotiation. Nevertheless, although the FA has been challenged throughout their existence, the organisation remains the number one authority for English professional football, formally speaking.
The implementation of the elite player performance plan: A sociological study of the experiences of education and welfare officers and coachesWaddington, Ivan; Bloyce, Daniel; Ashley, Nick (University of Chester, 2013)The recent poor performances of the English national side during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the European Championships in 2012, have caused journalists, fans and footballing figures to create a supposed moral panic for the state of the national game. A large part of the blame has fallen on our youth development systems accounting for the lack of young home-grown talent breaking into the first team squads of some of the country’s most successful clubs (Gibson, 2013; Independent, 2013; Sky Sports, 2013; Telegraph, 2013b). There have been various attempts to explain the lack of home-grown talent progressing through into the professional game in this country. The two of the most recognised arguments revolve around the influx of foreign players into the domestic leagues (Independent, 2013; Sky Sports, 2013; Telegraph, 2013b) and the quality of coaching (Football Association, 2008; McGowan, 2010; Premier League, 2011). In an attempt to tackle the supposed barriers to the success of young players, the Premier League (PL) in conjunction with the Football Association (FA) and Football League (FL) have sought to cultivate a new youth development system – the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). Previously, under the Charter for Quality, youth professional football had been allowed to wane due to a lack of monitoring and evaluation of current practices (Brooking, 2007). As a result, the standards of football clubs varied greatly throughout the PL and FL (Brooking, 2007; Lewis, 2007). Moreover, due to the lack of direction from the governing bodies, football clubs have developed young players in ways which suited the club - which has accounted for the sporadic numbers of players progressing through over recent years (Lewis, 2007; McGowan, 2010). In response, the introduction of the EPPP is an attempt to address these apparent shortcomings by standardising and modernising coaching practices, recruitment practices and facility provision in order for clubs to create greater access to younger players (PL, 2011). Most recently in a speech by Greg Dyke, the new FA chairman, youth football, and the EPPP has been hailed as playing a pivotal role in the development of the national game (Bond, 2013; Telegraph, 2013b; Winter, 2013). As a result of Dyke’s speech, the England senior squad are being handed new key performance indicators: a semi-final appearance in the 2020 European Championships and a World Cup trophy in the 2022 games, in which the £320 million EPPP is supposed to be the catalyst for attaining such ambitious goals (Winter, 2013). With such a high level of expectation on the EPPP to improve the standard of youth professional football, it is important for us to understand how the EPPP has been implemented within clubs. However, given how recent its inception is within youth professional football there is currently no existing published sociological work surrounding the initiative. Therefore, in an attempt to broaden youth professional football research, the objective of this study is to examine the experiences of key stakeholders within youth professional football, namely education and welfare officers (EWOs) and coaches, to assess how they have implemented the EPPP within their respective clubs. The success of the EPPP is reliant on the compliance of such stakeholders to implement the initiative at club level. As such, the central objectives of this study are to: i) examine how EWOs and coaches have experienced implementing the EPPP within their respective clubs; ii) explore the ways in which the EPPP has affected the existing roles of EWOs and coaches; and iii) reflect upon how the implementation of the EPPP has differed throughout the PL and FL. In order to examine the central objectives of the study, the thesis will be broken down into five chapters. The first chapter reviews the existing literature that surrounds youth professional football highlighting the three major themes of research in the area: the culture of professional football, educational provisions and players’ perceptions of education and player welfare and safeguarding. The chapter also reveals, given how recently the EPPP has been introduced, there is currently no existing literature surrounding it, creating a rationale to undertake this study. The second chapter of the thesis focuses on the EPPP itself, and what changes have been made to youth professional football compared to the previous youth system the Charter for Quality. Additionally, given the thesis aims to measure the implementation of the EPPP, the later part of the chapter outlines the policy process in order to give the reader some perspective when making reference to compliance levels and the ways in which the EPPP has been implemented by the EWOs and coaches within their respective clubs. Chapter three explains the theoretical framework, namely figurational sociology, that will be used to help explain the experiences of EWOs and coaches implementing the EPPP at their respective clubs. The chapter will highlight Elias’ core concepts of figurational sociology which the researcher believes will help make sense of the attitudes of EWOs and coaches towards the initiative and the reasons why its compliance has varied between clubs.
Pressure to play: A sociological analysis of professional football manager’s behaviour towards injured playersWaddington, Ivan; Law, Graeme (University of Chester, 2013-09)The objects of this study are to examine the ways in which professional football managers behave towards injured players, and in this context, the focus is on whether there is a ‘pressure to play’ in football. This study involved semi-structured interviews with current professional football managers from all levels of the professional game in England. The interviews focused centrally on the manager’s experiences of dealing with injured players and if at certain stages of the season or in certain games the manager’s behaviour towards an injured player was influenced. The effect that a player’s injuries have on the long term future of the player were also discussed along with the influence the managers backroom staff had with the interdependent relationships of the network. The findings indicate that managers know that they are unlikely to ever field a team that has eleven fully fit players and that players are inconvenienced when they are injured to encourage a quicker return to playing games. It was also evident that risks are taken on players if that player is regarded as a key player and the match is of high importance, as this reduces the risk of uncertainty on the manager in the network of interdependent relationships. It was noted that an authoritarian style is used by managers to have more control over the network of a professional football club. The managers expressed how they did not want to risk the long term health of the players but the constraints that were put on them influenced their behaviour towards injured players when there was no deliberate attempt to do so.