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Blackburn nail their colours to the mast with Ince

Simon Barlow in Editorial, English Premier League 19 Jun 2008

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Blackburn Rovers have made MK Dons boss Paul Ince their first choice to succeed Mark Hughes in the Ewood Park dugout.

They are confident his present club will not stand in Ince’s way and are applying to the Premier League for special dispensation to give their top job to a man without the UEFA ‘A’ license, as the rules stipulate. But after Middlesbrough won their right to bestow Gareth Southgate the position of Boro boss in similar circumstances two years ago, it should be a mere formaility now before Ince takes charge of Rovers.

Did I mention he would be the first ever black British manager of a Premier League club ?

Yes – almost 16 years after the rebranding of the old First Division brought English football fans out of the dark ages – a top club has finally shown some enlightened thinking.

We no longer watch kick and rush-style football in decrepit grounds with crumbling facilities – surrounded by an atmosphere of hooligansim and racist chanting. The Premiership boasts many of the best players of the world, an entertaining style of play envied across the globe played out in safe, new stadiums before a multi-racial and passionate crowd.

But there was still one glaring reminder that it takes more than just an injection of broadcasting and sponsorship cash to change attitudes within the game. Because why has it taken so long for a club to take this step when a quarter of all top-flight players are now non-white ?

Fulham’s Jean Tigana and Chelsea’s Ruud Gullit have managed in the Premier League in the past, but their circumstances were different to Ince who has had to start at the very bottom. Macclesfield Town were 92nd on the league ladder when the former West Ham, Man Utd, Inter Milan and Liverpool midfielder – who was also the first black player to captain England in 1993 – took over and lifted them to safety.

He took over in October 2006, less than two months after his former Old Trafford colleague Roy Keane was given his break at Sunderland – then an ambitious Championship club armed with new investment. That may be an unfair comparison and it does not explain the discrepency between the number of black players trying to break into coaching and management and number that actually get jobs.

Setanta Sports pundit Les Ferdinand chose the media route over coaching when he quit playing, although he still harbours hopes of managing one day. The former QPR striker believes the lack of opportunities given to aspiring black managers in the past has discouraged many of his contemporaries from persuing the path.

“Doing your badges can take five years. Players don’t want to give up that amount of time when there’s no prospect at the end,” Ferdinand told the BBC.

“The opportunities are not quite there for black managers at the moment.”

Ince was passed over for at least one Championship job before he took his first steps at lowly Moss Rose, but he has demonstrated his ability to win at every stage of his career since then – clinching the League two title this season.

Now Blackburn Rovers, a club with a multi-racial catchment area and mainly local support, have made the 40-year-old Ince their first choice to take charge will it open the way for more like him ?

Written by Simon Barlow, a professional sports writer who blogs about Euro 2008 betting at Betfair.

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Simon Barlow


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andy

this article is ridiculous. The fact is that british managers are not very good in general, regardless of their race. Black people make up 2% of the UK population according the office of national statistics. Therefore, if the distribution was to fall out naturally, and assuming all 20 premiership managers were british, there should be 0.4 black british managers, so having 1 is way above what you would expect. The difference with Tigana and Gullit is that they were pretty decent managers. Tigina is French, where they are generally more racist than in the UK. The fact that Ince has… Read more »

Simon Barlow
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British managers not very good ?? Do you know anything about football ? Your use of statistics is a bit naiive too – so . Tigana and Gullit were great players – Tigana had managerial experience before he went to Fulham, Gullit was givn his jobs on his playing ability alone and ultimately failed. About the best thing you said was “I’m sure there is racism in football to some degree” – so what was your argument again ?

andy
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andy

You are very defensive Simon, and leaping straight into insults suggests a very high level of immaturity. My argument was that your argument was pretty weak, and confused (hiring a black manager is not enough, they have to be black and british for it to be ‘enlightened thinking’ ? erm, ok) , and you don’t back anything up with any facts, other than a quote from les ferdinand… If you want me to clarify my argument, the fact is that there have been black managers in the premiership. And this suggests clubs are not racist, and the fact that Ince… Read more »

Simon Barlow
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Are you a Premiership chairman, you certainly know enough about football and prejudice to be one!

Out of 143 premiership managers ever – 2 black. I don’t know what percentage that is, but your population argument is naiive because manager jobs do not go to just anybody – they generally go to qualified coaches and ex-players – of which I’d wager there’s a higher percentage than this 2% you are quoting!

Football is not over-represented by black managers at all! How can you even suggest that ?

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