Tell me about the Black Footballers Partnership (BFP)

Founded in 2021, BFP is established to give voice and support to black men and women professional footballers who came together because we love football, want to see inclusion off the pitch and improved wellbeing for ourselves and our diverse communities. It evolved out of the Footballers Black Coalition which was formed in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder and the impact of the pandemic.

Who is funding BFP?

It is being funded by a group of Black professional footballers and a social entrepreneur, although our intention is to work with like minded partners in or associated with football for positive change.

Who can be members?

The membership will be Black male and female professional footballers and those that have progressed into coaching, management and administration.. We aim to utilise our collective purpose to grow meaningful relationships in and out of football to improve and grow the game and to use our platform to deliver for our diverse communities.

Why did BFP form

Off the pitch we feel the Football Pyramid is, broken, far from inclusive or working in the best interest of the game. There is an opaque and obvious glass ceiling in the governance of the game. Clubs celebrate black players as entertainers on the pitch but not leaders off it - despite black players being a net positive contributor to the business of football and graduating with coaching badges and from "Board ready" programmes. We urgently want this to change.

Does its work overlap with that of the PFA and Kick It Out?

It doesn't overlap with but complements the work of the PFA and Kick it Out. BFP will help them deliver good practice.

Why is the Szymanski Report a platform for change?

In 2021 BFP commissioned world renowned Dr Stefan Szymanski to map the gap between the pitch and the dugout and boardroom for black players. His detailed data driven report showed how qualified Black players were effectively barred from getting coaching and managerial roles in any significant numbers. Given the impact Black players made both on and off the pitch he saw this as an own goal for football.

What does the data say about Black players not getting roles?

The Syzmanski Report could not have been clearer: Black Players are not getting jobs off the pitch. For example, only 8.9% of former players active in pro English football (2004-20) that progressed into 'ex player' manager/admin roles were Black. Meanwhile 14.4% of all known UEFA pro licence holders are black and over 100 black players have graduated from the Board ready programme.

What does the Szymanski Report say about women's football?

The men's game is data rich the women's game less so. However, we are actively seeking partners within the game to conduct a Szymanski Report into the women's game to address the gaps felt by black women players on and off the pitch.

What does Szymanski Report say about the FA Diversity voluntary code?

The FA's voluntary code needs to be replaced by a mandatory code. The game should publicly champion a mandatory code and engage with the government to ensure this happens, as the multitude of diversity issues over many decades have failed to make a change. And leaders in the game have resigned after revealing a culture that does not support inclusion and growth.

What does BFP say at the FA's initiative and others?

We welcome them as positive initiatives but they are modest in their ambition but we support the Szymanksi Report in calling for a compulsory code. The question we are all asking is do they have teeth and is the football family responsive to change. This is another reason why we support a new body to represent Black players to deliver greater accountability and transparency.

What did Smarterscout reveal about the number of black coaches?

In their Special Report: What can data say about Black coaches? Smarterscout said: "Across all the leagues we track on smarterscout, going back to the 2017 or 2017/8 season, we found only 30 black coaches at more than 1000 clubs over three complete seasons and more."

From its analysis, what did smarterscout conclude about Black coaches?

Smarterscout said: As a group, these (Black) coaches are on balance as good or better than the other coaches working in their leagues; indeed there are twice as many who excel than there are with subpar results.

What change do you want the game to make

We want the game to no longer play for extra time. Three things the game can do now: Support a new organisation for black players which will be good for the games governance, accountability and transparency. Push for a compulsory code on diversity and inclusion, as the many initiatives have not delivered. Stop lumping every non-white group together to get accurate data.

Szymanksi recommends a new body to represent Black Players - explain?

To deliver a more inclusive game with growth at its core, Syzmanski recommends the setting up of an organisation to represent the interests of Black players and promote their entry into management. It would inspire new and future generations. Priority areas would include better representation and wellbeing, improved education and bringing players closer to the clubs fans and diverse and disconnected communities of all ages.

Club Foundations are the link to their communities, will you be working with them?

We hope to work with them. They will be key partners for us. But there is an outstanding question of what can be done to make club foundations and league trusts more inclusive.

What does success look like

In terms of representation, the National Basketball Association has a comparable playing black population to English Football. However, while 50% of the NBA's coaches are black and 40% of general managers too, English Football lags firmly behind with Black players not getting jobs off the pitch. NBA owners appear more engaged in personnel decisions.

Does BFP have a position on footballers taking the knee?

Yes, we believe that taking the knee is a peaceful act of protest that footballers should be allowed to express. The reaction and support of fans, uniting with and applauding the players, has been heart-warming for us and our families.

What is your message to fans?

Football is nothing without fans and supporters and we will be engaging with them widely,

What is your message to young players

We think the announcement by Crystal Palace to introduce enhanced after care programme for released Academy players is a step in the right direction. There is more that can be done.

Who can be partners?

Any person or organisation that shares our aims can potentially be a partner.

How important is collaboration and partnership working with fans

In football, we believes this starts and ends with fans, supporters and the communities that our clubs serve. We want them to get to know us as we evolve and for us to do more and have more insights into their daily lives and how we can meaningfully work together to grow football and make a change.

How is it funded?

It is initially being funded by footballer donations but we hope to be sustained by working in partnership with organisations in and associated with football.

Is it a not-for-profit organisation?

Yes we are a not-for-profit organisation and are registered with the community interest company regulator,