This year, three Brentford Football Club-linked individuals were voted onto the prestigious Football Blacklist.
Striker Ivan Toney, co-editor of Beesotted Podcast and Blog Billy Grant and ex player Gus Hurdle join Marcus Rashford, Nikita Parris, Alex Scott, Darren Moore and Nuno Espirito plus a number of other professionals honoured on this year’s football blacklist. The roll call was revealed at the National Football Museum in Manchester a week after Walter Tull, the world’s first Black professional footballer, was named in the football Hall of Fame.
The Football Black List was founded in 2008 by ex BBC journalist Leon Mann and editor of The Voice newspaper Rodney Hinds. It was set up against a backdrop of lack of representation of black executives and decision makers in the football industry to celebrate positive influencers from the Black community in the sport.
Its aim is to shine a light on the black black role models working in the industry, setting the sector ablaze and inspiring the next generation of leaders in sport.
Some of the initiative’s distinguished peers include businesswoman Dame Heather Rabbatts CBE, England internationals Tyrone Mings, Marcus Rashford, Angel City FC Sporting Director Eniola Oluko, former footballers Rachel Yankey OBE, Ian Wright, Rio Ferdinand and Yaya Toure, English football coach Hope Powell CBE, and diversity champion Lord Herman Ouseley.
This year, Ivan Toney was nominated for his fundraising for the St Vincent Volcano Relief. La Soufriere volcano erupted on the Caribbean island in April 2021, devastating the island. 15% of the population were made to live in temporary accommodation and 33% of the country’s agriculture was wiped out.
The striker set up a relief fundraiser for the caribbean island , making a significant contribution himself and vowing to donate an extra £1,000 for every goal he scored at the back end of last season. This came after clean water supplies started running short after ash from a volcanic eruption contaminated reservoirs.
On the pitch, Toney set a new Championship record in 2020/21 season scoring 31 goals – the most goals scored in a single season in that division. The hugely popular striker also helped The Bees to promotion in his first season after joining them and is currently spearheading their attack in their first appearance in the top flight since 1947.
Brentford and England blogger and podcaster Billy Grant from Beesotted was nominated for the work he has done over the years championing key fan issues whilst also tackling discrimination and diversity. Billy was on the board of the Football Supporters Association for years and also served on their National Council.
He co-runs Brentford’s main blog and podcast – the multi award nominated Beesotted – and has been at the forefront of challenging racism and promoting diversity for decades. He has organised numerous events with organisations such as Kick it Out and has set up initiatives and countless fan gatherings as part of his ongoing effort to ensure that people feel welcome at football games of all levels. He also more recently extended his involvement in football to coaching a girls football team.
Over the last few years, he has been working closely with media companies, including Channel 5 and Sky Sports, producing content for their various outlets which has enabled a diverse mixture of fans to get their voices heard and faces seen on mainstream media.
Ex Brentford player Gus Hurdle played for Brentford in the mid 90s in a team that was highly regarded and really should have played at a much higher level – playing alongside greats such as Bob Taylor and Nicky Forster. After losing out in two playoffs, the Barbados international left the Bees and within years was pursuing a career in television.
Previous Brentford editions to the football blacklist include Brentford FC Women’s coach Karleigh Osborne (2020) and Head of Football Operations Lorna Falconer (2019).
A panel of over 20 experts from the football industry and Black community voted independently on nominations made by the public on the eight categories to determine who makes the list.
The judges include representation from the Premier League, The Football Association, Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers Association, English Football League, PGMOL, Sport England, BCOMS and Kick It Out.
• Coaching & Management
Leon Mann MBE, co-founder of the Football Black List, said: “Black excellence in football is regularly talked about on the pitch and we want to help highlight the contribution of Black leaders off the field in the sport, too.
“This list of influential game changers is a snapshot of the contribution Black communities are making to football. Those named today join an illustrious group who have featured on the list over the last decade.”
Fellow co-founder of the initiative, Rodney Hinds, added
“The Football Black List never ceases to amaze me! The quality of nominees and awardees goes from strength to strength. There is no room for complacency as the sport in terms of inclusivity still has lots of room for improvement. The Football Black List is here to stay and the goals remain; to promote black excellence and diversify the game.”
Football Blacklist 2021
Players (for off-the-field achievements):
Anita Asante, Aston Villa Women
Cyrus Christie, Fulham
Ivan Toney, Brentford
Marcus Rashford MBE, Manchester United and England
Nikita Parris, Arsenal Women and England
Dayne Matthieu, Head of Safeguarding and Welfare – Tottenham Hotspur
Fleur Robinson, CEO – Wrexham FC
Paul Monekosso Cleal OBE, Equality Advisor – Premier League
Sarah Ebanja, CEO – Tottenham Hotspur Foundation
Steve Smithies, CEO – Cheshire FA
Coaching and Management:
Darren Moore, Manager – Sheffield Wednesday
Justin Cochrane, Head of Player Development – Manchester United
Nuno Espirito-Santo, Manager – Tottenham Hotspur
Paul Hall, B Team Manager – QPR; Assistant Manager – Jamaica FF
William Boye, Chairman and Manager – Ashford Town Women and Girls’ FC
Claudia Wilmot, Operations Director – Leaders in Sport
Gus Hurdle, Executive Producer – EA Sports
Javan Odegah, Strategic Account Executive – Leaders in Sport
Remmie Williams, Commercial Manager – The FA
Simbi Sonuga, Senior Account Manager – Octagon
Community and Grassroots:
Andrew Laylor, School Partnership Officer – Manchester United Foundation
Aneequa Prescod-Wright, Coach – Hackney Laces FC
Billy Grant, England fan/Podcast/Blogger – Beesotted
Jawahir Roble, Football Coach and Referee – Jason Roberts Foundation
Patsy Andrews, Grassroots Referee – The FA
Amy Allard-Dunbar, Youth Panel Education Officer – Football v Homophobia
Ade Oladipo, Presenter – DAZN/talkSport/Sky Sports
Alex Scott MBE, Presenter – Football Focus
Andrew Spence, Series Producer – Unedited
Fadumo Olow, Social Media Sports Editor – The Telegraph
Helen Campbell, Multi-Camera Director – Premier League Productions
Aji Ajibola, Referee – FA Council
Daniel Mills, Educator – Show Racism the Red Card
Drew Christie, Chair – BCOMS
Jackie Ferdinand, Director of Safeguarding & Inclusion – West Ham United
Liz Ward, Director of Programmes – Stonewall FC