Football Black List event celebrates inspiring leaders

6 Jun 2023

Awards event supported by Premier League honours those off the pitch making a difference

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The latest Football Black List event that took place earlier this year recognised and celebrated the wide range of influential black men and women across many categories of the game: media, community & grassroots, coaching & management, administration, players (off-the-pitch), practitioners and commercial.

Among those attending the event in London were the Football Black List co-founder Leon Mann, Richard Masters, the Premier League's Chief Executive, Iffy Onuora, its Head of Race Equality and Inclusion and a Football Black List inductee, Bill Bush, the Premier League advisor to the Chief Executive, along with former Leicester City captain Wes Morgan.

Those attending outlined why those who work in the business side of football deserve recognition.

Celebrating people off the pitch

"In the Premier League, 43 per cent of players are black and we rightly celebrate them, but what about the people off the field of play?," Mann said in explaining why he helped set up the awards, which are supported by the Premier League.

"We thought of this idea to come up with a list to now [create] an awards celebrated, in collaboration with the Premier League, with hundreds of guests."

Bush added that while the representation of minorities in football beyond the pitch has improved, there was still a long way to go.

“The journey is never done,” Bush said. “So I'm not going to say we're there, we're not there, but we're definitely heading in the right direction.

"The numbers employed, the way in which careers are developing, but we cannot be satisfied with what we have done. There is a long way still to go." 

This view was echoed by Onuora. 

"This is just the marker that we're moving in the right direction," the former player said. "It's been slow, and sometimes frustratingly slow, but there's no doubt I think in the last two or three years we have moved the dial a little bit quicker than previously.

"That's still the challenge, to make off the pitch look as representative as it is on the pitch.

"The early years was very much convincing people there was a problem here. Now we see it, and now everyone is saying, 'Yes, we understand it.’" 

Inspiring the future

After hanging up his boots on a successful career with Leicester, including leading them to an improbable 2015/16 Premier League title, Morgan is now working behind the scenes to improve Black representation off the pitch as part of the Premier League’s Black Player Advisory Group.

"Young black players want to see role models they can aspire to become once they finish football," he said.

"It's down to former players like me that's retired to try and make that happen, and hopefully lead the way for the next generation."

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