Several high profile names from the football world gathered at Wembley last night to celebrate the graduation of the second cohort of the ‘On The Board’ Effective Board Member (EBM) programme. Also recognised during the evening in the presence of football bosses including Bobby Barnes, Deputy Chief Executive at the Professional Footballers’ Association; Greg Dyke, Chairman of The Football Association; and Richard Bevan, Chief Executive of the League Managers Association were Tony Fernandes CBE, Heather Rabbatts CBE and Brendon Batson.
The EBM Award for ‘Significant Contribution to Governance in Football’ is a strategic leadership award which recognises the ambassadorial contribution and visibility in the field and contribution to the advancement of diversity in leadership and supporting the development of the pipeline for leadership. As Chairman at QPR, Fernandes has welcomed the progression of BAME staff including Les Ferdinand MBE who he promoted to Director of Football earlier this year and Chris Ramsey, now manager at the club. In her capacity as the only female Director at The FA, Heather is widely known for promoting the importance of diversity in sport and is a supporter of improving the pipeline of BAME groups across leadership positions in the sport.
A pioneer of black players in football, Batson, along with his then teammates Cyrille Regis and the late Laurie Cunningham were often subjected to extreme racism from fans. Having retired from the pitch, he has worked his way through the ranks at the PFA from senior administrator and previously serving as Deputy Chief Executive of the players union. When being recognised for his contribution, Brendon praised the work of the EBM programmes highlighting the achievements of the graduates and how the programme has been delivered. He gave an empowering address to the audience highlighting some of the barriers that he has overcome over many years in football.
The Award comes at a time when there is still much to do to tackle the lack of diversity on boards within football. According to the Sport’s Peoples Think Tank, “…only 19 ethnic minority coaches are employed in 552 positions across 92 professional clubs, just 3.4% of the roles available.”
On The Board seeks to tackle this issue and help to transfer the ambassadorial experience and insight of players to the boardrooms of clubs across the country. Those completing the course praise it’s aims and outcomes, with Hughton stating; “EBM has given me the chance to broaden my career opportunities, as well as enhancing my ability to relate to boards of directors in my current role.” He is one of only a handful of black managers across the top four tiers of English football. When speaking about The FA’s support of the programme, Dyke stated that; ‘… where BAME players are successful in attaining board places in the game, it will help to widen the diversity of the decision makers in football.”
Created by leading governance consultant Karl George MBE, founder of the Effective Board Member Programmes (EBM), On The Board in conjunction with Sports On Board and sponsored by the PFA and The FA seeks to help players and others involved in football to progress from the pitch to the boardroom. Previous graduates include Les Ferdinand MBE and Chris Ramsey. Notable names such as Chris Hughton, Rachel Yankey, Ugo Ehiogu and Ken Monkou are among the course participants.
The graduation of players throws a spotlight on the continued commitment of the PFA and The FA to tackle the lack of diversity on boards within the sport. The collaboration of EBM and the PFA is achieving results with several participants having already gained board appointments or undertaken board observations. Nathan Blake who graduated from On The Board in 2014 is one example having gained a non-executive position at Newport County A.F.C.
Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive at the PFA, which is the main sponsor of the programme said; “the governance forum is an ideal partner having delivered a similar programme to young, private sector professionals and we are keen to replicate the success with footballers.” The course is accredited by the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners and Edinburgh Napier University making it a valuable addition to any CV.
For more information about joining the Effective Board Member Programmes, please contact us on 0845 505 1875 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.