Nick Clegg to highlight racial "ceiling" in football
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will today (24 November) highlight a racial “ceiling” in football, which allows black players to become stars on the pitch but very few to make it through into management or administration.
The sport is typical of private-sector industries across the country, where ethnic minorities still face hurdles to achieving the level of success their white counterparts enjoy, Mr Clegg will say.
He will call for moves to promote “economic opportunity” for ethnic minorities, urging private businesses to make the same progress as the public sector in offering equal opportunities to black people.
And he will mount a staunch defence of Labour’s Equality Act, which protects equal opportunities in the workplace, as “a cornerstone of the UK’s rights architecture”, which is “not going away”.
In a speech in south London to mark 30 years since the Brixton riots, Mr Clegg will say: “In football, fans adore their heroes for their talent and character, whether they are black or white, and when Sepp Blatter dares trivialise racism on the pitch, his comments are rightly met with public outcry.
“But how many black managers are there in the Premier League? Zero.
“And in the top four divisions? There are just two, despite the fact a quarter of all players are black.
“In sport, like in so many other worlds, we have moved forward, but the ceilings still remain across so many professions.”
Mr Clegg will admit that his own Liberal Democrats – who have no ethnic minority MPs – are “still too male and too pale”.
But he will accuse private companies of failing to make the same progress as the public sector in delivering equal opportunities since Lord Scarman’s report into the discrimination which fuelled the 1981 riots.
While ethnic minority men in the public sector earn slightly more than their white colleagues, in the private sector a black man earns just 89p for every pound earned by a white man, he will say.
While 35% of people from black African backgrounds say they want to start up a business, only 6% are successful in doing so.
And firms owned by people of black African origin are four times more likely to be denied loans than white-owned companies, while those owned by people from Bangladeshi, Pakistani and West Indian backgrounds have been subject to higher interest rates.
Declaring that “we need to rebalance our economy along racial lines”, Mr Clegg will announce plans to look at problems which ethnic minority entrepreneurs experience in securing bank loans and building up their businesses.
Delivering the Scarman Lecture, Mr Clegg will say that progress has been made since the peer’s landmark report in improving the political representation and legal rights of ethnic minorities.
But he will say that economic opportunity is “the next frontier for race equality” and businesses and banks must not be “let off the hook” over their duty to offer fairness and equal opportunity.
“It’s time we resurrected the Scarman spirit to tackle the lack of opportunities for our ethnic communities. The barriers built into everyday British life,” Mr Clegg will say.
“The real lesson from the last 30 years is it is not enough for a society to reject bigotry. Real equality is not just the absence of prejudice. It is the existence of fairness and opportunity too.”