Footballer turned pundit Stan Collymore has penned an article for the Daily Mirror calling for the “Rooney Rule” to be imported from the NFL to the Premier League, because of what he perceives as discrimination against former black players, and Sol Campbell in particular, when it comes to management opportunities.
Collymore begins by implying that his own difficulties in securing media work, despite having won numerous broadcasting awards, mean that he too is a victim of discrimination. However, he fails to mention the baggage he brings with him, which includes accusations of assault and death threats against former girlfriends.
Collymore goes on to infer that the recent appointments of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Joey Barton to high-profile managerial positions, and football’s failure to employ Sol Campbell, are further evidence of discrimination in the game, which at face value seems fair. However, he fails to make several crucial points.
The first is that Sol Campbell is viewed by many in football as a man without loyalty. On the face of it, that is unfair, since most players will jump at the chance to earn more money and win trophies elsewhere if the opportunity arises, which Campbell did, and was entitled to do, when he left Spurs.
Campbell, however, forever put his integrity in doubt by choosing not only to move to the club’s bitterest rivals, Arsenal, when he could have moved almost anywhere else, but also by running down his contract and leaving on a free, thus depriving Spurs of a transfer fee. And this after stating categorically that he was staying:
“Being a Spurs fan as a boy and a player for so many years, it would be hard to sign for Arsenal. I don’t think the fans here would ever forgive me.”
By joining Arsenal, not only did he demonstrate to the world at large that loyalty was a virtue that ranked low on his list of priorities, but he did so while fully aware of what the reaction would be. In football, you see, loyalty does not mean staying at Tottenham, it means not joining Arsenal.
Whether one accepts that view or not is a personal choice, but for Collymore to fail to mention it in his article, nor to justify or defend Campbell’s actions, undermines his argument that discrimination is the sole factor to blame for Campbell’s inability to secure a job in football .
There is another important reason that could account for Campbell being overlooked for managerial positions, and which Collymore also omits from his argument, and that is his tendency to point the finger. In 2014, he accused the FA outright of racism, stating that, had he been white, he would have been England captain “for more than 10 years”. It is not hard to see how such firebrand statements could cast him as a liability in the eyes of potential employers.
Collymore is right to question the employment of certain former players, and Joey Barton in particular, but to conflate Campbell’s employment difficulties with such decisions is disingenuous.
Former black players are being treated unfairly – that is plain for anyone with an ounce of common sense to see. Whether the “Rooney Rule” is the answer is for others to debate, but action should be taken to address the issue, and quickly. However, Stan Collymore is not the person to be leading that charge. There are far more credible candidates out there, and it is time they stepped up to the plate and fought this clear imbalance within the game.