Deji Davies determined to tackle lack of black board members in football

Deji Davies insists the lack of black people in boardrooms across football is “a real problem” following his inclusion on the Football Black List.

Davies was among those recognised on the 2022 list, as the only black board member at a Premier League club with his role as non-executive director at Brentford.

The Football Black List was founded in 2008 and highlights leaders working across all areas of the game from the black community, with a panel of experts independently voting on nominations made by the public to decide who makes the list.

Davies joined the board of Brentford in August 2021 before he was appointed by the Football Association as chair of the inclusion advisory board last October, and thinks there should be more black representation in senior levels when you compare it to the numbers on the pitch.

He told the PA news agency: “To be the only black board member of a Premier League club is a real problem.

“It is certainly something that I’m proud of but equally highlights the problem and that there is still work to be done.

“But what we are encouraged by is the work that is being done by various different clubs in the league and my own club Brentford, we are certainly intending to improve the statistics but it’s clearly a problem and high up on the agenda to solve now.”

Davies was a former semi-professional footballer who played for Boreham Wood and Slough Town before deciding to take up more senior roles in the sport.

Other names to be included on the new Football Black List include current professionals Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling alongside coaches Vincent Kompany and Patrick Vieira, as well as former players Lianne Sanderson and Les Ferdinand from other categories.

He continued: “I’m in my early 40s now so when I was a child and from what I saw to where the game is now, clearly things have improved – but equally they haven’t come far enough, there still needs to be more representation at senior levels.

“I shouldn’t be the only one, in particular when you see the representation on the pitch. So I think there needs to be more opportunity.

“The more you come away from the pitch the more you see the numbers decline and actually the pitch representation is a glowing example of what can happen when you have a very intentional strategy around trying to find the best people for the job.

Brentford’s Ivan Toney, centre, celebrates a goal with team-mates
Deji Davies wants to see football’s on-pitch multi-racial representation reflected in the boardroom (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

“I think all of us from an organisation level to a club level needs to take on board the problem and collectively try and solve it ourselves.”

Despite Brentford being the only club to have a black board member, Davies admitted that they still have a lot to learn on the topic.

“We’ve got a lot to learn and we have made errors as well,” he said.

“The advancements we have made are a good start but at Brentford we recognise we still have a lot of work to do ourselves.

“Humility is always at the heart of what we do at Brentford, inclusion is always at the heart of what we do but we are humble enough to know that no one is perfect and the first challenge we have as an industry and clubs is accepting ownership of the problem.”