London: There are now fewer black managers in English soccer than there were a year ago and they are finding it harder than ever to get jobs in football, according to former player Jason Roberts.
He claims there is "open resistance" from clubs to appoint black managers or those from ethnic minorities and it is time the government acted to stop the current system.
Roberts, who scored more than 150 goals in his 18-year playing career, told BBC Radio 5 Live he agreed with Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), that more must be done to increase the number of black managers.
"We have close to 30 per cent BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) players yet we went into the season with no black managers," Roberts said. "That is a shocking statistic and things are getting worse.
"Last season we had three or four black managers in the game. We went into this season with none.
"It has been about 30 years since black players were involved in the game en masse and I think we are now at the point where we have to go to the government and go open and public on this."
Since the start of the season, Chris Powell has become manager of Championship side Huddersfield Town while Keith Curle has been appointed boss of League Two side Carlisle United in rare appointments of black managers.
Roberts said he was in favour of the Rooney Rule, which has had a big impact on the recruitment of black coaches in American football.
The rule, established in 2003, requires NFL teams to interview at least one black or minority ethnic candidate for the head coach`s position or a senior role that becomes available.
Before it was introduced, only seven ethnic minority coaches had held senior coaching jobs in the NFL but that has changed dramatically over the last decade.
"You can see the impact it has had," said Roberts, 34, who played for Reading, West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers before retiring from football earlier this year due to injury.
"It isn`t a quota system, so it`s not the case that because we have 30 per cent black players we have to have 30 per cent black managers.
"It is just an interview, just to involve people who at this moment in time are not getting an opportunity to be involved in the interview process, to pitch their case to the people who are giving these roles out."
Taylor meanwhile told the BBC he thought there was a
"hidden resistance" to hiring black managers.
Roberts added: "I would go further, I would say there is open resistance. There hasn`t been any real will from any of the governing bodies to move on this issue. There has been a lack of leadership."