The Premier League are planning to introduce a raft of measures to tackle racism in football. It is understood that clubs will be told of a number of proposals at Thursday’s shareholders’ meeting, where there will be an acknowledgement that work done so far has not been good enough.
Plans include providing training opportunities and jobs at clubs and in the media for black coaches and former players. A new programme to recruit referees from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups is also set to be introduced. As part of a renewed crackdown on racism, the Premier League will also seek partnerships with British Transport Police to improve the identification and sanctioning of offenders. Further work will also be done with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to ensure those engaging in racist behaviour will be dealt with appropriately. The news comes as Sports Minister Mims Davies said she will meet agents, the FA and Premier League in the coming weeks to discuss what action is needed to tackle racism in the game.
‘Football is the national game,’ said Davies. ‘People of all ages and from all backgrounds should be able to enjoy it. It should bring people together not foster division. Those involved in abuse are not football fans. They are using football as a cloak for discriminatory, and often criminal, behaviour, and they are not welcome in our stadiums. Football reaches into every community in this country and can play a big part in helping to champion the values we want to see as part of society today. But we will not stand by and watch people threaten these values with ugly acts of hatred.’
Sportsmail can also reveal that Lord Ouseley, who is to step down from anti-racism group Kick It Out at the end of the season, is likely to leave his role on the Premier League panel which he has served since 2000. Activities to mark the 25th anniversary of Kick It Out at fixtures over two weekends in March and April will still take place, but they also will focus on the work done by clubs and the league, with the Premier League aware that the group is being investigated by the Charity Commission following allegations of bullying.
There have been a number of ugly and worrying racism-related incidents in recent months. The Metropolitan Police are still investigating after a number of Chelsea fans were alleged to have racially abused Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge. At December’s north London derby, a Tottenham fan was banned after throwing a banana skin at Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while at Millwall’s recent 3-2 FA Cup victory over Everton, video footage captured a number of fans singing ‘I’d rather be a P*** than a Scouse’.
The plans will be presented by the Premier League’s director of policy Bill Bush at the summit, which will take place in London. He will point out that much needs to be done and will ask for the backing of clubs. The plans also include the launch of a number of education campaigns, in co-operation with the FA and English Football League. With regards to under-representation of minority groups within the Premier League and football itself, Bush will call for positive action to improve diversity.
This will include training opportunities and paid fixed-term contracts at clubs, and partnerships with Sky, BT Sport and the BBC to recruit black ex-players to training and employment programmes in the media. There are also plans to create a joint programme with Professional Game Match Officials to find referees from black and under-represented groups, along with proposals to fund partnerships with colleges and universities which will train and find work placements for black trainees in sports administration roles.