The Football League has caved into pressure and pledged to introduce the "Rooney Rule" from the start of the 2016-17 season. The regulation will see each of the 72 clubs required to interview at least one candidate who is a black or ethnic minority when recruiting for the head coach or manager position.
Plans to introduce equal opportunities for coaches originate from the National Football League, who introduced the policy off the back of campaigning by Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers chairman who pushed for the change until its implementation in 2003. The move has been well received and extensively studied.
The Championship, League One and League Two combined currently have just six black managers – Chris Ramsey, Chris Hughton, Chris Powell, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ricardo Moniz and Keith Curle – and naturally the hope is this number can be increased from the beginning of its introduction.
Such a move from the Football League will only swell the pressure on the Premier League to follow suit but chief executive Richard Scudamore is cold on the idea of the Rooney Rule being used in the top flight.
In November 2014, the league promised to improve opportunities for up and coming black coaches by setting aside three places for ethnic minorities in its elite coach apprenticeship scheme. However, with the 2015-16 season set to begin with not a single black manager working in the top flight, pressure is expected to swell.
The role of the football manager in the professional game is among the most unstable and fragile on the planet. Increased rewards means the trigger fingers of dollar-chasing owners are constantly itchy. The League Managers Association says 47 managers were sacked last season, the most for 13 years.
Therefore, the interviewing for new managers is a process that occurs at nearly every club at least once a season, if not more. The Rooney Rule would tear up the policies and practises of clubs up and down the country and mean administrators would have a handle on who they were appointing, why they are being recruited and, more pertinently, the reasons for overlooking others.
In the NFL, before eventually being hired by the New York Jets, Todd Bowles would report to an adviser to detail the interview process held by a franchise, who would later reject him, to confirm whether they were complying with the rules.
It sounds altogether like a very unhealthy situation. Leagues and associations are already accessing the balance sheets of each and every club under new financial fair play regulations and this would be another step towards governing bodies controlling and influencing clubs.
Under the Rooney Rule, football clubs would no longer be able to have preferred candidates for roles, something that in the age of dictatorial owners is increasingly common. If Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp or Jose Mourinho were to be available in the future, clubs, under the proposed rules, would have to interview an alternative candidate whether they had any intention of hiring them or not. The same goes for the promotion of caretaker managers, who could win every game of their temporary tenure yet would see a competitor interviewed to fulfil a quota.
The regulations would become an obligatory, tick-box exercise. A rule supposed to encourage diversity and equality and unite a divided sport would be resented by clubs as they commit resources and time to an interview process that they have no faith in while having to answer to the powers that be.
The statistics over the amount of black people working in key coaching positions speak for themselves and it is out of kilter with both the numbers of ethnic minorities playing the game and in society.
At the start of the 2012-13 season, a third of the players in the Premier League were black or of an ethnic minority. Meanwhile, a 2011 census reported 12.7% of the UK's population was of the same descent. The figures are as conclusive as the ones faced by the NFL prior to 2003.
While campaigning for equality in professional coaching becomes increasingly ferocious, one key aspect of the debate is often overlooked: results. Those black managers whose opinion is often canvassed around this subject or complain at being discriminated against are almost always the same people who fail when given an opportunity.
Paul Ince, for example, after impressing at Macclesfield Town and Milton Keynes Dons is now rightly on the managerial scrapheap. Spells at Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League and then back at MK Dons, with Notts County and then Blackpool, where he went nearly two months without winning a game before being removed, have followed with little success.
Yet, in May 2015, Ince saw it fit to claim that black managers face "more obstacles" to reach the summit of the sport. It is a view undermined by his reputation as a coach forced out of the game not through creed or colour, but by talent. John Barnes, a poster boy for confectionery conglomerate Mars is another to mask over his deficiencies with unfounded accusations.
The reality is there is no evidence that black managers are being intentionally marginalised in spite of their capabilities of a manager. I fear we will be having the same debate if and when Ramsey is disposed of by QPR in the early months of next season, with his side's limp relegation from the Premier League conveniently forgotten. Thinly veiled accusations of racism need to stop being used as a stick to beat football with, in this instance.
Introducing the Rooney Rule may, in the long run, have its benefits. A talent pool will be created behind the current core of managerial talent and, if nothing else, black coaches will be exposed to a rigorous interview process that anyone who has applied for a permanent job can understand is hugely beneficial. It will also lend hope to current players and trainee coaches that a route into management and other opportunities will be made available.
But yet again the rule is a way of allowing the governance of the game to further control the operations of football clubs, a dangerous reality of a sport that is increasingly slipping into the hands of the money men.