By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Anti-racism campaigner Paul Elliott says English soccer's support of the Black Lives Matter campaign will be an 'empty gesture' unless concrete action is taken to have more black representation in leading administration roles.
In an open letter to the industry on Thursday the former Chelsea and Celtic player Elliott, now chair of the Football Association's Inclusion and Advisory Board, outlined plans for a voluntary code for Equality In Football Leadership.
Elliott says clubs from grassroots to elite level could then work towards meaningful targets in achieving greater diversity in boardrooms, senior administration and coaching.
"Our aim is to add to the good work clubs are already doing up and down the country, working with them to create meaningful targets which we can then all use to demonstrate collective progress," Elliott said.
"Adopting the code will signify that together we want to go on a journey to ensure football leads the way. We'll audit annually and will be transparent in publishing results.
"To do this clubs will need to be prepared to be transparent about their diversity statistics."
Elliott praised the diversity of the FA's Board which has four women and one BAME director, but said the Premier League, EFL, FA Women's Super League and National League must step up.
The Premier League restarted on Wednesday after the COVID-19 shutdown and the first 12 fixtures will see names on the back of shirts replaced by "Black Lives Matter".
Before Wednesday's matches between Aston Villa and Sheffield United and Manchester City and Arsenal, all the players took a knee in support of protests into the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis last month.
"It fills me with huge pride that, for the remainder of the season, teams playing in the Premier League, EFL and the FA Cup will support the Black Lives Matter campaign," Elliott said.
"Despite that progress, we still have some way to go as a game in some key areas. Critically, we need to address the systemic inequalities that prevent under-represented and minority communities gaining senior management opportunities across society and in football."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)