Fomer Shrew Lionel Ainsworth wants diversity

By Lewis Cox | Shrewsbury Town FC | Published: | Last Updated:

Former Shrewsbury Town winger Lionel Ainsworth wants to see black and ethnic minorities achieve roles in football on talent rather than the colour of their skin.

Lionel Ainsworth of Shrewsbury Town celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 3-2

Ainsworth, 32, believes BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) coaches or managers should be given opportunities if they are good enough to fulfil the roles, rather than to fill a quota.

Ainsworth, who made 64 appearances for Town between 2010 and 2012 and now plays for National League South side Dulwich Hamlet, was addressing the subject of race in English football on Forward The Hamlet's Home Disadvantage podcast.

He told them: “Once you’re in the door it’s showing the people upstairs, rather than your colour, what you can do.

“There’s the Sol Campbell situation, with (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard, how do those two get to where they are in a short space of time and this man has been working (in the lower leagues).

“I’m small. I’m 5ft 7ins and people would always say ‘you’re small’, but I’d say I was good enough. That’s what an academy director told me.”

The EFL piloted the Rooney Rule in the 2016/17 season where, if an application is received, EFL clubs should interview at least one BAME candidate for managerial and coaching roles, and the regulation was made policy last summer.

The Premier League does not plan to follow suit and introduce such measures. Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo is the only BAME manager in the Premier League.

After former England defender Sol Campbell left relegated Southend last month, Nuno is one of only five managers from 91 clubs of black or ethic minority – Sabri Lamouchi (Nottingham Forest), Darren Moore (Doncaster), Keith Curle (Northampton) and Dino Maamria (Oldham) the others.


Ainsworth added: “If you’re good enough at your job then I’m going to choose you because you’re the best, regardless of the race or colour that you are.

“With the Rooney Rule and everything now it’s easy to go and interview 10 black or Asian or ethnic minorities to say we’ve filled the quota and then go with (person) X over here.

“It’s a tough question. How do we get around this?

“It might be people upstairs saying ‘I don’t want you to work for me’ or ‘what you’ve come with is not what we’re looking for’ rather than the colour of your skin or religious beliefs.

“I think they should base it off whether you can do the job, and if you can, then go and get into the Premier League, regardless of what you look like.”

Lewis Cox

By Lewis Cox
Multi-Media Sports Journalist

Sports reporter with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Covering Shrewsbury Town and with a keen eye for non-league and grassroots.


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