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FA launch football leadership code to enhance inclusion across English football

The Football Association (FA) have announced a new Football Leadership Diversity Code, with the objective of increasing diversity and inclusivity in English football.

Over 40 clubs across the face of football in England, including the Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have become founding signatories to the code set out by the FA.

The Code has been formed alongside players, coaches, club executives, HR directors, media and leaders who are all committed to ensuring that the English game is more representative of modern society.

It has been recognised that the increasing diversity on the pitch, with regards to genders and ethnicities, are not being reflected off the pitch in leadership positions, therefore, the newly formed Code will be focused upon increasing the equality of opportunities, as opposed to filling quotas.

The clubs that will adopt the code are: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford, Burnley, Burton Albion, Cambridge United, Chelsea, Coventry City, Coventry United, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Durham Women, England, Everton, Fleetwood Town, Fulham, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Lewes, Lincoln City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oxford United, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It is believed that one of the reasons for their being a lack of diversity in leadership roles currently is down to positions being provided to those from personal networks, which has led to the Code focusing on hiring based on merit from diverse talent pipelines.

It has not been made mandatory for clubs to sign up the code, however, the FA will actively encourage those from men’s and women’s football to do so. An adapted version for National League and grassroots clubs is expected in 2021.

"Many clubs are already doing good work in this area and we've been pleased to see football stand together this year to challenge the injustice we are seeing in society,” started Paul Elliot, chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board, in a statement from the FA.

“However, positive and tangible action is required to drive change and take the next step. We believe the introduction of the Football Leadership Diversity Code will signal a long-term change for the English game.

“The number and stature of clubs that have already agreed to join us on this journey proves that together, with clear goals, transparency and a desire for action, we can shape a better future together. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”

Upon signing up to the code, clubs will be required to devise an equality, diversity and inclusion plan, which applies hiring targets and recruitment principles. The targets will cover senior leadership and team operations, coaching in men’s football clubs, coaching in women’s football clubs, together with the recruitment strategies.

The targets include:

Senior Leadership and Team Operations:

• 15% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage [or a target set by the club based on local demographics] • 30% of new hires will be female