BOLTON Wanderers have signed up to a “game-changing” scheme designed to increase diversity in coaching and middle-management roles in football.

The FA have launched the Football Leadership Diversity Code as a means to tackle inequality across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles.

It is being hailed as an important step in tackling racial inequality within the game and has already had 40 clubs, including Wanderers, commit to hitting targets and changing recruitment policies.

The Premier League and EFL are among the major organisations who are also expected to embed the code’s targets into its existing regulations.

The code has set targets that 15 per cent of new hires in senior leadership and team operations roles will be black, Asian or mixed-heritage – or a target set by the individual club based on local demographics. Thirty per cent of new hires will be female. In coaching, 25 per cent of new hires and 10 per cent senior coaching hires will be black, Asian or of mixed heritage.

Shortlists for interview will aim to have at least one male and one female Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage candidate, if applicants meeting the job specifications apply.

The code focuses on increasing equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society.

Hiring will be based on merit, to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines. The aim is to move away from recruitment practices focused on personal networks, which is a longstanding challenge across football and has limited the diversity in leadership across the game.

 It is viewed as a starting point towards greater diversity and, while focusing on gender and ethnicity now in reflection of the current player base, it will expand more broadly over time.

Wanderers’ head of Community Trust, Phil Mason, said: “Bolton Wanderers Football Club is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and is aware of the importance of celebrating diversity in the community of Bolton

“Through the work of the charity arm of the club, the Community Trust, we deliver a variety of programmes that promote equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), including our All Ability Counts Football Team, our award winning work with the LGBT+ community, our work to increase hate crime awareness and report it and our Healthy Goals For Life programme which are all examples of our commitment to put EDI at the forefront of everything we do. 

“During this season we are launching a new Unity in Bolton programme that is bringing together people of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds represented in the town highlighting that we get to unity in and through diversity. 

“We have and continue to work closely with Kick it Out and Show Racism the Red Card and engage with the fanbase on issues raised of any form of discrimination.

 “This code represents a clear step change in the right direction of ensuring that we reflect the wider community, and that we actively encourage and enable the talent we have from people of diverse backgrounds and gender into positions of responsibility with the football club. 

“Our work in the community highlights the commitment we have made to the town in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion and these are fundamental principles that we stand for in the club.

 “We are often reminded of the inappropriate issues that are raised through football regarding attitudes towards race and gender that are also reflected in wider society. This code stands as a beacon of hope in that difficult place and with a commitment made across the game will help English football raise its game in focusing on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The architect of the code is ex-Chelsea and Aston Villa defender Paul Elliott, who is chair of the FA’s Inclusion and Advisory Board.

“Many clubs are already doing good work in this area and we have been pleased to see football stand together this year to challenge the injustice we are seeing in society,” he said. 

“However, positive and tangible action is required to drive change and take the next step. We believe the introduction of the Football Leadership Diversity Code will signal a long-term change for the English game.

“The number and stature of clubs that have already agreed to join us on this journey proves that together, with clear goals, transparency and a desire for action, we can shape a better future together. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”