A steering group of high-profile former players may be established to monitor why so few black footballers become managers or coaches. Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said yesterday that consideration was also being given to appointing an officer to monitor boardrooms and alert would-be black managers to job opportunities.
"We want to see it is not just a case of an old boys' network working at present," Taylor said. "England has probably integrated more players now from different creeds and colours than any other nation in the world. But now there is a next stage to go into. If it is Everest we are climbing then we have only reached base camp."
He was speaking after a meeting of former and current black players - including John Barnes, Luther Blissett, Cyrille Regis, Garth Crooks and Chris Powell - who may make up the steering group. At the meeting it was discussed whether or not clubs were guilty of "institutional racism" in their managerial appointments.
Barnes, who had a brief stint in charge of Celtic, said: "I view black managers in the same way that black players were looked at in the 70s, when they were told they could be wingers and forwards but not centre-halves. There is this train of thought that they cannot do the job."
Among those present was Keith Alexander, the manager of Lincoln City and one of only three black managers currently working in England. Around 20 per cent of players, however, are now Black Britons. Powell, the Charlton Athletic defender, said: "I look at people like Keith, Leroy Rosenoir and Keith Curle and think, 'if these guys can do it then I can do it'. It is all about opportunities and there are a number of players who would like to get that chance."
Crooks, the former Tottenham Hotspur striker, said: "What we are looking for is transparency and consistency when it comes to making the transition from player to manager."
The PFA cited the examples of Paul Davis, the former Arsenal midfielder - "a highly qualified coach who could justifiably say that he has been overlooked for positions" - and the former England international Blissett, who "had the experience of being told when he applied for a job that he did not have enough experience".
Taylor said: "The game owes them that right to be given an opportunity." The PFA will also push for the League Managers' Association to implement a "properly structured Equal Opportunities policy".
"It is like putting your medals and caps on the table," Taylor added. "The situation will only have changed when more black managers are appointed."