Arthur Wharton was born in Accra, Ghana (formerly Jamestown, Gold Coast). In 1882, aged 19, he moved to England, to train as a Methodist missionary, but soon abandoned this in favour of becoming a full-time athlete. He began his football career as an amateur goalkeeper for Darlington, before moving to Preston to play as part of 'the invincibles' of the 1880s. Returning to football again in 1890 he signed a professional contract with Rotherham. Wharton is widely considered to be the first black professional footballer.
Arthur Wharton would turn 150 years old later this year. According to SportingIntelligence, during the 2012/13 campaign 32.22% of the players are black. This becomes all the more apparent during the African Cup of nations in January which often hinders the selection of most Premier League sides. With Manchester City stars Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony and ex-Chelsea legend Didier Drogba notable absentees.
The sacking of Paul Ince from Blackpool in 2014/15 due to lack of communication with the board, and Edgar Davids now unemployed following being released from Barnett has reduced the number of black managers in the football league.
Article continues below
Today there is only six black managers in all the 72 English football league clubs. That is a percentage of only 8.33% - far lower than the 32.22% of players. Chris Powell was sacked from Charlton Athletic, he is now the manager of Huddersfield town. Chris Houghton and Chris Ramsey are the highest placed managers, in charge of Brighton and Hove Albion and Queens Park Rangers respectively.
Chris Ramsey was promoted into the role of manager at QPR given the resignation of Harry Redknapp midway through the season. He starts this year in the Championship after being relegated with the R's at the end of last season.
Article continues below
Given the number of players currently playing the football leagues, there is a serious lack of managers representing them in the hot seat.
I would argue it is time for Football to take a leaf out the NFL's book. In 2003 the NFL established the Rooney Rule. The rule was named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league's diversity committee, due to the Steelers' long history of giving African Americans opportunities to serve in team leadership roles.
The Rooney Rule requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. It is sometimes cited as an example of affirmative action, though there is no quota or preference given to minorities in the hiring of candidates.
It was created as a reaction to the firings of head coaches Tony Dungy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Green of the Minnesota Vikings. At the time Dungy had a winning record, and Green had just had his first losing season in ten years. Shortly afterwards, U.S. civil rights attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran released a study showing that black head coaches, despite winning a higher percentage of games, were less likely to be hired and more likely to be fired than their white counterparts.
Is it now time that the EPL follows the NFL and introduces a similar rule, it has a chance to lead the way in the football world and prove that it really is an international and multicultural league.
The Premier League has already showed itself to be at the forefront and envy of the other football leagues, with many trying to replicate its new TV rights deal which is worth £5.1bn.