The NFLs Rooney Rule – A project to emulate in English football?

The NFL’s Rooney Rule – A project to emulate in English football?


A Debate

Venue: Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London), Medawar Building, Malet Place (off Torrington Place), London WC1
Date: Thursday 13th October 2011 at 6pm

Given by:  KickItOut, football’s equality and inclusion campaign, and the Professional Footallers Association (PFA)


The Rooney Rule is a code of conduct initiated by America’s NFL American football league which ensures that there is always at least one black and ethnic minority candidate on the interview panel for head coach positions in the NFL. The Rooney Rule is named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who persuaded other NFL clubs to expand their interviewing process in 2003, offering at least a chance for black candidates to present their credentials. The issue of the lack of black head coaches in the NFL had previously been highlighted in a research report. The introduction of the Rooney Rule is widely acknowledged to have led to dramatic expansion in the number of black head coaches in the NFL (Winter, 2011).

A debate has now been started in English football regarding whether the Rooney Rule code of conduct should be adopted in the Premier and Football leagues following the visit to Britain in early September of US lawyer Cyrus Mehri, a leader proponent of the initiative. Mr Mehri addressed the Football Association, Premier League, Football League and League Managers Association during his stay, emphasising the benefits which can be reaped from introducing such a policy. Out of 92 managers at Premier League and Football League clubs, only Chris Powell at Charlton Athletic and Birmingham City’s Chris Hughton are black, making up just 2%. In comparison, 25% of the English game’s 4,500 professional players are from ethnic minorities (, 12th September, 2011).

KickItOut is football’s equality and inclusion campaign.  To mark the launch of KickItOut’s One Game, One Community weeks of action campaign (KickItoOut, 2011), a panel of special guests will debate the pros and cons of introducing the Rooney Rule into English football, and what the game can do more widely to increase the number of black managers at professional level.


The brand name of the campaign – Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football – was established in 1993 and Kick It Out established as a body in 1997. Kick It Out works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.

The campaign is supported and funded by the game’s governing bodies, including founding body the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the Premier League and The Football Association.


Panel Speakers

  • Rodney Hinds – Sports editor, The Voice newspaper
  • Dr Colin King – Colin King is the founder of the Black and Asian Coaches Association, a grass roots organisation aimed at redressing the lack of black managers across all levels of the game by working at community and governing body level.
  • Danny Lynch – Media & Communcations Officer at Kick It Out.
  • Earl Barrett – ex-Everton and Aston Villa player, youth coach at Stoke City and Oldham Athletic.

Contact Details

Kick – It – Out

Seminar series
Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763

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