QPR legend Les Ferdinand speaks on slow change to equality at boardroom level and greater representation for minority groups

BY YANN TEAR
yann@londonweeklynews.online

Les Ferdinand believes changes in football club ownership will eventually result in greater representation of black and ethnic minority groups at boardroom level.

The QPR legend, who scored 90 goals in 183 appearances for the club between 1987-1995, and netted five times in 17 appearances for England, was made director of football by the club in February 2015.

That makes him one of the few black boardroom members at football clubs up and down the country, and the 52-year-old believes that will surely change as more overseas owners take control.

Rangers’ majority shareholders are Malaysian businessmen Tony Fernandes, Kamarudin Meranun, and Ruben Gnanalingam, with British-Indian businessman Amit Bhatia the current chairman.

“I think, slowly but surely, we are seeing a change, certainly in terms of ownerships of football clubs, and that’s becoming a little bit broader,” Ferdinand said in an interview given to film maker Samuel Ogunleye about the lack of diversity in football boardrooms.

“It’s no coincidence to me that I’ve been given my opportunity by an ethnic minority board, to be honest. But I think that’s what’s happening in football.

“We’re seeing a load of different owners from different cultures coming in and owning football clubs in this country, and perhaps with that we may get a change of mindset to the boardroom.

“The career I’ve had and the status of that has been given to me in terms of my footballing career has certainly opened the way a little bit for me to get into the boardroom.

“I’ve sort of gone out of football and gone into the media side of things when I retired, then went back into football and that opened my eyes to this role and I was fortunate to get that opportunity.”

QPR have been at the forefront of offering opportunities to coaches of diverse racial backgrounds in recent years, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Chris Ramsey being given managerial roles.

But Ferdinand, who was interviewed by the FA last year as they looked for a successor to Dan Ashworth as technical director, believes there is still an issue over the perceived value of black managerial candidates, which ownership and boardroom changes might eventually change.

“When you see a player come to the end of his career – you look at someone like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Mark Hughes, Steve Bruce, to name a few, they come to the end of their careers, they’ve had glittering careers, and people talk, the media talk, about how great managers they’ll become, or they’ll show good signs to become managers.

“You see a Paul Ince come to the end of their career, you see John Barnes, you see Sol Campbell, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Les Ferdinand – no-one talks about them being good managers.

“So it’s just people’s mindsets, and as long as that’s intrinsic in football, it will affect the boardroom.”

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