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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 2, 2007

Barnes: Black bosses are not given fair chance

Former England international John Barnes believes there is sub-conscious racism in British football which sees black managers treated unfairly.

Paul Ince takes Macclesfield to Chelsea in the FA Cup at the weekend, but he is one of only two non-white managers in the Football League along with Keith Alexander at Peterborough.

Barnes, who had an unsuccessful brief spell in charge of Celtic seven years ago, does not see football as a level playing field for black coaches and managers.

The Liverpool legend told PA Sport: 'From an athletic point of view there will be black people because athletically we are equal, from a managerial perspective it's more to do with the intellectual aspect of it and I don't think we are regarded as intellectually equal.'

He added: 'If you want to talk about racism, I think it is a sub-conscious racism.

'I don't think anyone goes out to say `I don't like black people and they're not going to be a manager'.

'It's not that he won't give him a job because he's black, it's because he's not up to the job. Why is he not up for the job? Because he's black.

'Sub-consciously he would think `I don't want him because he's not up for the job'.'

The only black top-flight managers have been Dutchman Ruud Gullit and Frenchman Jean Tigana, and the Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers' Association have been looking at getting more non-white coaches qualified for coaching and management.

'Of course it's an issue. The only two non-white managers in the Premier League have been French and Dutch, so although they are black they were a bit exotic - not English with an English accent,' added Barnes, who was recently invited by sponsors Vauxhall VXR to coach amateur side Team VXR in London for a day as the club bid to become semi-professional.

'So I believe we do ourselves an injustice in this country, there's a little bit of an inferiority complex.'

Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out have put the issue at the top of their list of priorities.

'Most managers come from a playing background and it doesn't make sense that around of third of players in English professional football are from a black background and there are only two managers,' said Kick It Out director Piara Powar.

'It's right at the top of our agenda and other people's within the game - clearly there are issues in the way recruitment is taking place and club chairmen not preparing to trust, or see black players as potential coaches and managers.

'These guys are at press conferences and handling the money - the people in control don't really want to hand over those reins to someone from a black background.'

Powar added: 'Black coaches and managers are as adept at coaching an managing as a foreign manager from Europe such as Jose Mourinho or Rafa Benitez, or a homegrown manager.'

The PFA hold a quarterly coaching forum addressing the situation, with ex-players attending as well as representatives from the LMA, FA and Premier League.

Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Davis is a football development officer for the PFA and encourages the right candidates to attain coaching qualifications, and there has been an increase in non-white people taking the UEFA pro-licence and the certificate of applied management at Warwick University.

However, Ince and Alexander remain the only black managers in the English professional game at the moment.

Macclesfield are second bottom in League Two and Ince is unlikely to lead his side to victory against Chelsea, but PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor believes the match offers the chance for the former England captain to be seen as a role model.

'One would hope that a character like Paul can achieve success and be seen as a good example and a role model for others to follow,' said Taylor.