British managers are not being given a fair crack of the whip when it comes to Premier League vacancies, according to League Managers Association (LMA) director Graham Mackrell.
As the top flight has grown richer, its ownership more cosmopolitan and fanbase increasingly global, foreign managers have became prevalent – 14 out of 22 teams currently have non-British bosses.
Mackrell told Elephant Sport: “If there’s a vacancy at a top club, is a homegrown manager going to be appointed? Burnley’s Sean Dyche is openly on record as saying that the only way he would manage in the Premier League would be to take a team there.
“We’re not being xenophobic, but one of the disappointing thing as far as we’re [the LMA] concerned is the small number of British managers.”
The LMA is also critical of the lack of job security among its members, as impatient club owners across the divisions jettison managers with increasingly regularity if results fail to go their way.
The Association’s latest report shows a record 29 managers in the top four English divisions were sacked in the first half of this season.
Those dismissals between 1 June and 31 December 2015 are the most ever at this stage of the season. The highest number for a single campaign is 53, in 2001-02.
“Everybody wants to be successful, and by very nature football is a sport and you can’t all be successful”
Mackrell’s involvement in the professional game stretches back 35 years, including major roles such as club secretary at Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham United, as well as posts with the Football Association and Uefa.
“One of the biggest problems is managing expectations,”he said. “Everybody wants to be successful, and by very nature football is a sport and you can’t all be successful.
“Also, as a country we are really poor at training and education, not just in football, in general.
“I speak to friends who work in Germany and Switzerland, they’re always on training courses, we’re very very poor at training people and up-skilling them once they’re in post.”
With over half of Premier League clubs now foreign owned, some critics argue the game’s traditional values have thrown out the window.
Mackrell said: “I worked for many years at Sheffield Wednesday and the people who were the owners or the director of the club didn’t see it as a vehicle for making money for themselves, they saw themselves as trustees for the city.
“They had no salaries, the only reward was a couple of glasses of wine on a Saturday in the boardroom, but as far as actually taking money out of the club it just didn’t happen.
“It’s the same with Charlton Athletic – new owners came in to take the club to ‘the next level’, they’ve taken it to the another level and it’s not the one they or the fans wanted.”
However, some owners are implementing new and exciting ideas for clubs, and do have the resources to take them to that fabled ‘next level’.
We’ve seen it at Manchester City and Chelsea, where billions have been invested to win silverware, expand stadia, improve training and academy facilities and increase revenues, transforming top-flight clubs into a global super brands.
Mackrell said: “You look at the situation at the moment at Leicester City, its a [an ownership model] that’s proving to be very successful. The club’s Thai owners aren’t trying to run the club themselves, they’ve put a structure in place and let people get on with it.”
Foreign owners can, however, be insensitive about a club’s proud traditions – just ask Cardiff fans about Vincent Tan’s plan for the Bluebirds to play in red because it’s a lucky colour in his native Malaysia.
Does Mackrell believe the ‘fit and proper persons’ test for club owners and directors in British football is fit for purpose?
“If you allege someone’s not a fit and proper person, you will be challenged in the courts by somebody who has a lot of money, but yes I do think [the test] definitely can be improved.”