19 September 2010
On blacks getting breaks

Some time ago James Hamilton mused on the rise of the friendly clubs - clubs like: Watford, Luton and Norwich - in the 1980s.  I wonder if one of the reasons for their rise was their willingness to field black players.  Norwich had Justin Fashanu, Luton Brian Stein and Watford Luther Blissett and John Barnes (and Worrell Stirling if you’re a real aficionado).  We shouldn’t forget in all this Ron Atkinson’s West Brom which fielded three black players at the same time, way before anyone else.  I am struggling to think when the big clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal followed suit.  Late Eighties I would guess.

I was reminded of this today reading about the anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix.  Here we have an American who first made it big in Britain.  Apparently, according to one commenter he even adopted some British English aphorisms.  I say “reminded” but on further reflection it occurs to me that there is no obvious connection (at least, not obvious to me) between the phenomenon of small teams being more open to black football players and Britain being more open to black guitar players.

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  1. This book


    has an entire chapter about this subject, in which they do a statistical analysis. Earlier in the book they discuss money - the total wage bill played to players is extremely strongly correlated to club performance. Then the looked at the success of clubs that hired black players in that era compared to those that didn’t. Clubs that did - precisely those that you mention - performed much better than white only clubs with the same wage bills.

    So there was racial discrimination in hiring practices, and clubs that did not indulge in it benefited strongly from not doing so.

    The same statistical analysis done now indicates that this sort of discrimination is now entirely absent. Black players are no longer underpaid. Clubs that had previously discriminated could no longer do so and keep winning, so they stopped doing so. Really a very
    heartening conclusion.

    The book’s attempt to explain why England lose is less convincing
    though. That one is much harder.

    Posted by Michael jennings on 19 September 2010 at 11:02pm

  2. paid to players, I mean

    Posted by Michael jennings on 19 September 2010 at 11:37pm

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