Update on the Premier League’s No Room For Racism Action Plan

New initiatives have been introduced to embed equality and increase diversity throughout the game.

By BHAFC • 09 February 2023

By Premier League
The update shows that progress has been made against all six pillars of the Action Plan, with targets set to ensure this momentum continues.

The Premier League announced a two-year update on its No Room For Racism Action Plan earlier this week, which was launched in February 2021.

This precedes two match rounds (11-19 February) when all Premier League fixtures are dedicated to No Room For Racism. During this period, the League and clubs will send a clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated in football or wider society, as well as demonstrating how diversity across all areas of the game makes it stronger.

The update shows that progress has been made against all six pillars of the Action Plan, with targets set to ensure this momentum continues.

New initiatives have been introduced to embed equality and increase diversity throughout the game. This includes programmes to develop coaching and executive pathways, to ensure there are more opportunities for people from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Combatting discriminatory abuse both at matches and online remains a priority for the League. The League’s online abuse monitoring system – which since 2020 has supported players who have suffered discriminatory abuse – has been made available for all Premier League clubs to utilise on their websites, providing a method for fans to report racism.

There is continued proactive work with social media companies and authorities to address the issue of online abuse. This includes running online monitoring programmes, filtering tools and helping to develop artificial intelligence systems to better detect and remove abusive comments.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Tackling discrimination and increasing diversity within football is of huge importance to the Premier League and our clubs.

“The No Room For Racism Action Plan has brought together the League’s longstanding work in this area, as we strive to make the game more inclusive, and I am glad to see that progress continues to be made against all the key areas of the Action Plan. However, there is more that can and will be done to instigate significant change.

“We conduct a wide range of work to deal with the issue of online abuse and to ensure our stadiums are welcoming to all. We will continue to make it clear to everybody that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated in any environment.

“We also know that football benefits from greater diversity across all areas of the game. The initiatives we have introduced are designed to develop pathways for under-represented groups. We will continue to progress these, as well as working on new programmes, to ensure even more opportunities are available for people from ethnically diverse backgrounds.”

Players will once again be showing their unity against all forms of racism at all Premier League matches between 11 and 19 February by taking the knee before kick-off, as they did on the opening match round of the season, during previous No Room For Racism fixtures and at matches immediately following the FIFA World Cup. This is in line with the decision taken by club captains before the start of the season.

Chair of the Premier League Black Participants’ Advisory Group and Sheffield Wednesday manager Darren Moore said: “After two years of the No Room For Racism Action Plan, it is encouraging to see that progress continues to be made in the fight against discrimination and that there are more steps being taken to diversify the game to ensure players and coaches from under-represented groups can thrive within football.

“I am also happy to see initiatives being put in place to help former players who aspire to take on executive roles in the game. We know that football benefits from the incredible diversity we all see on the pitch and there is no doubt that is the case off the pitch as well. More has to be done to ensure these pathways develop and we see more diverse representation in prominent positions within football. 

“Everybody has a responsibility to build on the work being done. Whether that is reporting incidents of discrimination or educating young people about equality and inclusion, we all have a role to play in demonstrating there is no room for racism.”

Since launching in March 2019, No Room For Racism has brought together the League’s work against racial discrimination and the Action Plan is embedded across all Premier League activity.

Over the last five seasons, match rounds have highlighted the ongoing action undertaken by the League and clubs and send a clear message to fans, urging them to take action when they see or hear racism.

Please see accompanying update for more detail on the progress that has been made within the six pillars of the No Room For Racism Action Plan.

No Room For Racism Action Plan

Key pillar updates

Action Against Racism

In June 2020, the League introduced a dedicated reporting system that players and others in the game can use to report any discriminatory tweet, post or direct message that they have received. All reports received are fully investigated by the League’s in-house legal team, with ongoing support provided for further action, including the banning and sanctioning of offenders. The legal team also works closely with the UK police and overseas authorities investigating cases. 

From the start of the 2022/23 season, the online abuse reporting system was made available to all Premier League clubs to feature on their official websites, providing fans with a function to directly report discriminatory abuse. 

The League also continues to work proactively with social media companies to ensure that combatting discriminatory abuse is a priority. This includes running online monitoring programmes, filtering systems and developing artificial intelligence systems to better detect and remove abusive comments. 

Another priority is ongoing work with authorities and clubs to protect players and ensure that matchdays are safe and welcoming for all, with a comprehensive approach to data collection for incidents of discrimination both at matches and online under way.

Embedding Equality

The Premier League Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Standard (PLEDIS) supports clubs, including all Premier League clubs, to embed and develop equality, diversity and inclusion across their operations. The PLEDIS is closely aligned with the Football Association’s Football Leadership Diversity Code ensuring a collaborative approach to tackling under-representation within football.

It mandates greater accountability for progress, including the publication of annual progress reports, and covers all areas of a club’s activities, including its role as an employer, match day operations, Academy, first team, Club Community Organisation (CCO) and fans.

In April 2022, a new Independent Assessment Panel was recruited to assess clubs against the PLEDIS framework. At present there are 27 clubs taking part in PLEDIS, including all current Premier League clubs and seven relegated to the EFL who are continuing on the PLEDIS pathway. They receive the same level of support and guidance as Premier League clubs.

Executive pathways

The Premier League is committed to increasing the diversity of its own workforce, setting medium and long-term targets when the Action Plan was launched, as well as developing programmes to provide more opportunities within football for people from under-represented groups. 

Company-wide workforce from ethnically diverse backgrounds has increased from 12% in February 2021 to 16.5%. The target for 2026 is 18% and for 2031 is 30%.

The Player to Executive Pathways Scheme (PEPS)

A pilot programme was launched in November 2022 with seven former players following a tailored initiative. This includes a placement to gain experience of club operations, with an official from each club acting as a mentor to their PEPS participant.

Premier League Futures

A new 12-month course launched in May 2022 with the aim of identifying and preparing current or former Academy players, aged 18-24, for future executive roles in the professional game. The programme supports male and female Academy players from a diverse background, providing management and leadership, with 12 participants taking part in Season 2022/23.

Coaching pathways

The Premier League has continued its commitment to increase the representation of coaches from black, Asian and mixed heritage backgrounds and women at all levels in football.

The Coach Index

The Coach Index is an online self-registration system for appropriately qualified coaches from currently under-represented groups. It provides a recruitment tool for clubs across the professional game, with the aim of creating a more diverse coaching workforce. There are currently more than 290 coaches registered on the Coach Index.

Coach Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives

The League also runs EDI initiatives to improve pathways for coaches from ethnically diverse backgrounds. This includes the Professional Player to Coach Scheme and the Coach Inclusion and Diversity Scheme, which has welcomed 46 participants over three years, with 36 of them currently in full-time employment at clubs.

Player and match official pathways

The Premier League continues its work to ensure that every player within the Academy system has the opportunity to maximise their potential, on and off the pitch whether in football or beyond, regardless of ethnicity or background.

South Asian Action Plan

Launched in the 2021/22 season to address the underrepresentation of South Asian boys within club Academies. Over the last 12 months, a wide range of activity has taken place, including our South Asian Talent ID Summit with recruitment staff from over 50 clubs in attendance. Premier League Emerging Talent Festivals in partnership with Leicester City and West Ham United were attended by 648 players, primarily of South Asian heritage.

Analysis of South Asian participation in grassroots football in conjunction with Kick It Out has also been commissioned, along with workforce development to increase South Asian representation within Academies. Club-led activity further promotes pathways into Academies for boys of South Asian heritage.

Elite Referee Development Plan

One of the key focus areas of the Elite Referee Development Plan, which was launched in August 2022, is to increase diverse representation among match officials. A development group of officials with high potential from various areas of the game has 30 per cent representation from non-white heritage.

Supporting Communities

The Premier League continues to develop and promote its No Room For Racism education resources via national community programmes (Premier League Primary Stars, Kicks and Inspires) and across the Academy Education and Player Care network. The resources focus on allyship, racial stereotyping, online abuse and inclusion and engage young people through Premier League-funded community programmes run by 106 professional clubs.

The Premier League Primary Stars No Room For Racism resources have been used by more than 8,900 teachers to engage over 267,000 young people in primary schools across England and Wales.

In partnership with the PFA, the Premier League invests £5.9 million annually into clubs, with a further £2.8 million invested via the EFL Trust. This provides core support to 98 club charities to be inclusive, well governed, and sustainable, with each of those clubs required to have a named strategic EDI lead as well as operational leads for race equality, disability, gender and LGBTQ+ Inclusion. 

During Season 2021/22, 31 per cent of participants engaged across the four Premier League-funded programmes (Premier League Primary Stars, Premier League Kicks, Premier League Inspires and Premier League PFA Community Fund), were from ethnically diverse communities, an increase of 3 per cent from 2020/21.