The English Football League (EFL) has confirmed it will adopt the Rooney Rule.

An 18-month trial saw EFL clubs voluntarily committing to interview at least one black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidate when recruiting for any managerial position in first-team football. 

The scheme is a variation of the Rooney Rule in the NFL, where teams are required to interview ethnic minority candidates for head coaching jobs.

A new regulation has been introduced by the EFL, which it said will ensure "that the principle of providing more opportunities to BAME candidates is mandatory when clubs consider multiple applicants for a role". 

The EFL also confirmed a change in regulations following the 'Spygate' row between Championship clubs Leeds United and Derby County earlier in the year.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa admitted sending a staff member to watch Derby's training sessions ahead of a league game between the sides in January.

The EFL concluded after an investigation that the conduct undertaken by Leeds breached its regulations, but on Friday noted a clarification of the rule was needed.

It now reads: "Without prejudice to the requirements of Regulation 3.4 (that each club shall behave towards each other club with the upmost good faith), no club shall directly or indirectly observe (or attempt to observe) another club's training session in the period of 72 hours prior to any match scheduled to be played between those respective clubs."

Manchester City completed an unprecedented clean sweep of domestic honours in English football this season.

But 20 years ago the club were operating in a very different reality and on the brink of ruin, having dropped down to the third tier for the first time in their history.

Having initially struggled with the status of being overwhelming favourites for the Division Two title, Joe Royle's side managed to scrape into the play-off final at Wembley on May 30, 1999 against Gillingham.

Goals from Carl Asaba and Robert Taylor had Tony Pulis and his underdogs 2-0 to the good as the 90-minute mark approached.

City, whose neighbours Manchester United had completed their own incredible comeback to win the Champions League against Bayern Munich in Barcelona four nights earlier, were staring into the abyss – a planned move to what would become their Etihad Stadium gravely threatened by the prospect of a prolonged stay in the lower divisions.

Without the new stadium, Sheikh Mansour and all that followed would probably never have happened. This is the story of City's journey through England's footballing backwaters and how the likes of Paul Dickov and Nicky Weaver became players revered alongside the club's superstars of today.

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Having played as a centre-forward in a celebrated mid-1970s City team, Royle returned as manager in 1998 but was unable to avert relegation to Division Two – what is now League One.

Joe Royle (Manchester City manager 1998-2001):  "There were in excess of 50 professionals on the books. On my first deadline day were just trying to get players out to release the wage bill. There were constant talks about the club going into liquidation. There was certainly no money to spend and, at the time, we were fighting a relegation battle."

Paul Dickov (Manchester City forward 1996-2002, 2006-08): "A club like Manchester City should never have been in that division in the first place, regardless of players, mismanagement off the pitch and everything else. I think the clubs that have stayed down there a long time have maybe a bit of a complex about it and that's why they stay down there. You can say we're a big club and we shouldn't be here but if you take that attitude you're never going to get out of it."

 

A 3-0 opening day win over Blackpool proved a false dawn. After a December defeat to York City, Royle's men were languishing in 12th

Nicky Weaver (Manchester City goalkeeper 1997-2007): "It was the lowest the club had ever been. It sort of couldn't get any worse. We were a bit of a laughing stock. We needed a leader, Andy Morrison came in, Terry Cooke as well and Gareth Taylor."

Gareth Taylor (Manchester City striker 1998-2001; currently City's U18s coach): "We never warmed up on the pitch at Maine Road before home games, I don't know whether it was because of the fans giving the lads a bit of stick. We used an old primary school at the back of the Kippax Stand. They had an old assembly hall – really small, wooden floors. We'd play head tennis, do little sprints. Sometimes you were stopping yourself from sprinting into the piano or into the curtain."

Royle: "You had the anomaly of sides actually bringing more away fans to Maine Road than they were getting at home sometimes. They were making a big day of it. Coming to the game, theatre of a night, a meal out in Manchester, a couple of nights in a hotel."

 

Back-to-back wins against Wrexham and Stoke City after Christmas proved a turning point and City stormed up the table to a third-place finish.

Dickov: The Stoke game was huge for us. We were one down at half-time and we managed to turn it around, come back and win 2-1. I'd been lying to you if I said there wasn't a few things said at half time, a few things thrown, a few punches thrown as well."

Taylor: "The fans let us know about it at half-time against Stoke. It was high pressure, a bit of a cauldron. Then I remember Paul setting up a cross inside for me and I managed to get my first goal. We won the game 2-1 and kind of went on from there, really."

 

After edging through a semi-final 2-1 on aggregate against Wigan Athletic, City faced up to Gillingham, a manager on the rise and their in-form strike duo – one half of which almost missed out on Wembley.

Robert Taylor (Gillingham 1998-99, Manchester City 1999-00): "Tony Pulis was like a dad to the rest of the players, everyone looked up to him. He's such a nice fella but a hard fella – he'd tell you straight but everyone knew where they stood with him. In the build-up to the game we trained at Aston Villa and I turned my ankle. Where they'd taken the goals out of the ground, I went down one of those holes. I was sitting on the sidelines with an ice pack with Gareth Southgate, funnily enough, who was there training for England. He's going, 'Are you going to be fit for Sunday?'. I didn't know if I would be."

Weaver: "We were all excited. We trained at our stadium leading up to it. It must have been the day that tickets were released - I turned up for training and they were queueing around the car park at Maine Road. The buzz about going to Wembley, it was the first time they had been to Wembley for a long, long time. I remember it seeming to take ages to come around."

 

A cagey contest unfolded until Asaba finished superbly in the 81st minute, before laying on Taylor for a fabulous second.

Robert Taylor: "I played with Carl at Brentford and we were one of those partnerships that just clicked. You look at the goal we scored at Wembley where I flicked it on, spun and he backheeled it back to me. We knew each other, where we were and what we wanted."

Weaver: "Bob Taylor's goal is probably my fault, I was out of position – too advanced, showing him too much of my near post. But no one ever says anything about that so I'm quite happy about it. You're down and out, but I remembered Man United against Bayern Munich a few nights earlier. I was thinking 'if you get one, you never know' and Kev scored."

 

Kevin Horlock drilled home a loose ball from the edge of the box before a signal for five minutes of injury time sparked fresh hope in the City end. Dickov made them count with an equaliser at the death.

Gareth Taylor: "I don't know where that time came from. I can't remember there being any injuries or anything like that. I managed to win the header, I put it forward to Kevin, Kevin sets it to Shaun Goater, who gets tackled and Dickov scores. Cue pandemonium."

Robert Taylor: "I don't know where five minutes came from, to be honest with you. It's a mystery. Bringing Carl off and leaving me up front on my own let them come forward more. They could put another couple of bodies forward and it landed to the right people."

Weaver: "I remember Tony Pulis was going mad on the touchline about the injury time. At this point he'd taken his strikers off and put more defensive players on."

No one could find a winner in extra-time, meaning City and Gillingham would settle their fate from 12 yards.

Royle: "We'd been practicing penalties all week and Nicky Weaver, exciting young prospect that he was, hadn't been great at saving penalties. There is a knack to saving penalties and he was a bit raw. I did remotely consider bringing Tommy Wright on for the penalty shoot-out."

Weaver: "I think he'd used all his subs… he had! He put Tony Vaughan on for Andy Morrison, Gareth Taylor came on and Ian Bishop. But it may have crossed his mind at some point. We did a lot of penalty practice and Paul Dickov never missed. He was like a tennis ball machine."

Dickov: "Going into penalties we were super confident. I've never been as confident in my life taking a penalty."

Gareth Taylor: "I was keen to take one but Joe Royle didn't look at me and I don't blame him! I was on penalties normally but I missed one in a game against Oldham at Maine Road. I scored in the game but missed the penalty. I don't think he ever forgave me because we lost the game 2-1."

 

Despite his confidence, Dickov's attempt to beat his former Arsenal team-mate and best man Vince Bartram from 12 yards hit both posts and bounced clear. Weaver was on form, however, saving from Paul Smith as all City's other takers scored. Adrian Pennock also missed for the Gills, meaning Guy Butters had to score their fourth kick.

Weaver: "I said to the linesman, 'If I save this, is that it?' He said, 'Yep'. I said, 'Are you sure?'. There was plenty of power on it but it was one of them where if you guess the right way, you're going to save it. I pulled this face that I've never pulled previously or since, waved the lads over and got this adrenaline running through my body. I hopped over the advertising board, ran around there and back onto the pitch. Only big Andy Morrison stopped me. The last thing I wanted after that was a 20-man pile-on."

Gareth Taylor: "I got married a week afterwards. Nicky Weaver's at my wedding doing the silly like [penalty celebration gesture] every time he sees the camera."

City were promoted back to the Premier League the following season and, although relegation followed and Royle departed, they bounced straight back before taking up residence in the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003. Five years later, they were under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Dickov: "I dread to think what might have happened if we hadn't gone up. If you believe what people were saying, the club would have really struggled. It's probably just as well we didn't realise how important it was as it would have put more pressure on us. I signed in 1996, I was at the parade after this season and you can see the same people are still working here. It would have been easy for the owners to come in and get rid, but they've got wonderful people working here. The stuff they do in the community around east Manchester is amazing. It’s a special club and I don't think they get the credit they deserve for it."

Weaver: "The Wembley thing, it sort of gets bigger every time I go back. People want to talk about it more. I suppose I'll be talking about it for the rest of my life. It's just a fantastic part of the club's history and I'm so proud I was involved."

Royle: "It's nice what they say about our time being a base for what's happened here. Who knows what would have happened with one more season in the lower divisions? The drama the fans have gone through there is amazing. I don't think there's any parallel to what has happened at Manchester City in recent history."

Manchester City's 2018-19 season concluded with players celebrating on the Wembley turf last weekend, just like it did 20 years previously.

The parallels end there.

While Pep Guardiola's all-conquering domestic treble winners spent the campaign pushing to higher levels of excellence, their counterparts from two decades ago often threatened to chart new depths of farce - or "Cityitis", as then manager Joe Royle termed it.

Treble fever also hit Manchester in 1999, but for United and Alex Ferguson, who famously added a last-gasp injury-time triumph in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich to Premier League and FA Cup glory.

Meanwhile, City were grappling with life in Division Two – the third tier of English football – for the first time in their history.

"It is unthinkable now but it was only 20 years ago, a generation ago," said Nicky Weaver, the former England Under-21 goalkeeper who would end his breakthrough campaign in 1998-99 as City's saviour. "They're at Wembley every other week now."

"It was my first season playing, so for me it was just a thrill to be involved in it all. The fans probably didn't think so, going to places like York and Colchester and Lincoln and Macclesfield and places like that.

"It took us four or five months to get into our stride. I think everyone thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was."

City had been in the Premier League as recently as 1996 but two relegations in three seasons sapped morale at their tired former home of Maine Road.

A 3-0 win over Blackpool on the opening day of the season proved a false dawn as a bloated and ill-equipped squad slogged away with mixed results. Across town, United were heading for the footballing stratosphere.

A December loss at York City left Royle's pre-season promotion favourites 12th in the table and in danger of slipping into oblivion. However, no-nonsense captain Andy Morrison came in to add some steel to the backline and the corner was turned in the nick of time.

"I remember going to Wrexham on Boxing Day," Weaver said, of a game when Dutch defender Gerard Wiekens scored the only goal for City. "Ian Rush was playing for Wrexham. That was a big thing for me at the time, playing against someone like Ian Rush.

"We won 1-0 and then we beat Stoke at Maine Road and went on a really good run."

Regular goals from Shaun Goater, wing wizardry from United loanee Terry Cooke and Weaver's increasingly sharp keeping were all factors as Royle's men stormed up to third.

Automatic promotion proved out of their reach but, after a tense semi-final against Wigan Athletic was negotiated 2-1 on aggregate, Wembley – of the twin towers vintage - awaited.

Tony Pulis' Gillingham were betting outsiders but ‘Cityitis’ struck again as Carl Asaba and Robert Taylor beat Weaver with late goals. It was 2-0 heading into the final minute of the 90 and many of the Manchester contingent were heading for the exits when Kevin Horlock lashed in an apparent consolation.

Then came some hope from the touchline.

"I always thought the biggest thing was the five minutes of injury time. That was a little bit dubious," Weaver chuckled.

"Mark Halsey [referee] is a very popular man in these parts! I've got images of Tony Pulis going mad on the bench."

If Pulis was going mad there was full-scale pandemonium in the City end shortly afterwards when Paul Dickov steered a finish past a familiar face in Vince Bartram, best man at the City striker's wedding, in the Gillingham goal – an 'Aguero moment' before such a thing existed.

Extra time passed without incident before Weaver took the virtue of inexperience into the penalty shoot-out.

"I don't think I'd even been in one in a school tournament," he said. "Nowadays, you look at where the last few penalties have been, you have all the information and statistics.

"There was none of that then. I just thought, 'make yourself look as big as you can, pick a way and go that way'.

The method worked as Weaver thwarted Paul Smith, while Adrian Pennock blazed high and wide. Successes from Horlock, Cooke and - despite not having a senior goal to his name - Richard Edghill meant Guy Butters had to beat Weaver, or City were up and out of the abyss.

"He hit it well enough. It wasn't right in the corner but he got plenty of power on it," the goalkeeper recalled.

"Fortunately, I managed to get two hands on it. I waved the lads over and sort of pulled a face. I don't know where that came from."

Weaver's delirious celebration – halted only by a typically robust intervention from Morrison – is still fondly remembered by City supporters to this day, despite their vastly altered reality.

"If City had just been a mediocre Premier League club now, no-one would talk about it as much as they do, but the fact of where they are and where they have come from, it just makes the story so much bigger and so much better," Weaver said.

"If we hadn't done it, who knows what would have happened? It certainly wouldn't have been any easier.

"The new stadium followed a few years later, and then obviously the big investment came after that. If the stadium hadn't come, the investment might not have come and we might not have been sat here."

For all that Guardiola's unprecedented success is rooted in meticulous attention to detail, it owes a significant debt to the guess work of an unassuming terrace hero.

Bolton Wanderers will enter administration, chairman Ken Anderson has confirmed. 

Portsmouth have reported to police an alleged racist message sent by a fan to Peterborough United striker Ivan Toney.

Toney scored twice on Tuesday to give Peterborough a 3-2 win at Fratton Park that ended Portsmouth's hopes of automatic promotion.

The club have apologised for what they describe as an "abhorrent message" sent to the 23-year-old after the match and have vowed to assist police in any investigation.

"Portsmouth Football Club have been made aware of a racist message sent to Peterborough United player Ivan Toney on social media," they said in a statement on Thursday.

"The individual who sent this abhorrent message claims to be a Pompey fan and the club will do everything in its power to identify them.

"There is no place in football – or indeed society – for racism and it will not be tolerated at Portsmouth Football Club.

"The club have reported this incident to the police and will work to assist them with any investigation.

"We would also like to apologise to Ivan Toney for any distress this incident has caused."

On Tuesday, Peterborough described the alleged social media message sent to the former Newcastle United striker as "wholly unacceptable" and assured it would be reported to authorities.

Equality campaigners Kick It Out welcomed the response of each club, stating via Twitter: "Good to see swift action from both clubs on this incident and we applaud their uncompromising stance.

"We have offered our support to Ivan Toney and again stress to social media companies that they need to do more to rid their platforms of discrimination."

Bristol City's Championship play-off dream remains alive after a late 2-1 win at Millwall.

The visitors had seemingly slipped out of contention after a run of one point from four matches - including Saturday's costly defeat to Derby County - left them outside the top six.

And it looked as though their slim chances of still achieving promotion to the Premier League would be extinguished when they trailed to Lee Gregory's goal at half-time on Tuesday.

But City responded admirably to Gregory's smart finish on the turn, even if they might have fallen further behind in the second half when the scorer went down in the area.

Max O'Leary kept out Shaun Williams' penalty, though, and Lee Johnson's men were level three minutes later thanks to Jamie Paterson's superb free-kick.

City kept pushing and, with eight minutes remaining, Famara Diedhiou struck to leave his side just one point behind sixth-placed Derby County, who have a game in hand, away at Swansea City on Wednesday, and Middlesbrough.

Elsewhere, Luton Town and Barnsley were both promoted to the Championship after Portsmouth and Sunderland each lost their games in hand, meaning they will have to go through the play-offs to reach the the second tier.

Joey Barton has denied all wrongdoing after an alleged incident involving Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel following Saturday's League One match against his Fleetwood Town side.

Barnsley confirmed the club made a formal complaint to the English Football League and Football Association this week, while South Yorkshire Police are also investigating the matter.

A police statement said on Wednesday a man was arrested "on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offence and racially aggravated assault" in connection with the incident but has been bailed until next month.

And Barton, who is in his first season as a manager, used social media to maintain his innocence on Thursday.

"With regards to the alleged incident on Saturday following our game against Barnsley, I emphatically deny all the allegations made," Barton wrote on Twitter. 

"Given this matter has not been formally closed, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment."

Sky Sports News showed footage after the match that appeared to show former Newcastle United, Marseille and Manchester City midfielder Barton attempting to leave the ground in a car before being stopped by police.

Barnsley and Fleetwood did not fulfil post-match media duties after the Tykes' victory moved them back into League One's second automatic promotion place.

Barnsley have made a formal complaint to the English Football League and Football Association relating to the alleged incident involving their manager Daniel Stendel and Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton following Saturday's League One game at Oakwell.

South Yorkshire Police are also investigating the matter.

A statement issued by Barnsley read: "Barnsley Football Club can confirm that it has lodged a formal complaint to both the English Football League and the Football Association.

"This is following an alleged incident at the conclusion of the match on Saturday 13th April, between Joey Barton and Daniel Stendel.

"The club is also currently working with the police and assisting with all enquiries regarding the incident.

"No further comment will be issued whilst police investigations are ongoing."

Following Barnsley's 4-2 win, their striker Cauley Woodrow suggested Barton confronted Stendel in a now-deleted tweet.

Sky Sports News showed footage after the match that appeared to show former Newcastle United, Marseille and Manchester City midfielder Barton attempting to leave the ground in a car before being stopped by police.

Neither Barnsley nor Fleetwood fulfilled their post-match media duties after the game, where victory moved the Tykes back into the second automatic promotion place.

Police are investigating an alleged incident that occurred in the tunnel after Barnsley's 4-2 League One win over Fleetwood Town on Saturday.

A tweet from Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow, which has since been deleted, suggested Fleetwood boss Joey Barton confronted opposite number Daniel Stendel.

"The club can confirm there was an alleged incident in the tunnel area that took place following the conclusion of today's match, which South Yorkshire Police are currently investigating," Barnsley said in a statement.

"The club is assisting the police with its enquiries and, as a result, we are not in a position to make any further comment at this time."

Sky Sports News showed footage after the match that appeared to show Barton attempting to leave the ground in a car before being stopped by police.

A widely circulated statement from a South Yorkshire Police spokesman read: "We are aware of something that has taken place in the tunnel after the game and we are investigating."

Omnisport has contacted South Yorkshire police for further comment.

Neither Barnsley nor Fleetwood fulfilled their post-match media duties after the game, where victory moved the Tykes back into the second automatic promotion place.

Shaun Harvey will step down as chief executive of the English Football League (EFL) at the end of the season.

The organisation announced on Monday that Harvey will be leaving after nearly six years in the role.

"I am proud of what we have achieved since then, in what have not always been easy circumstances," he said in a statement published by the EFL.

"Consistently during my time, I have always looked to push boundaries to make the maximum positive impact for clubs, whether this be from a financial perspective or by generating value in another way. I have always held the view that the strength of the EFL, is its clubs and no club, or indeed individual, is bigger or more important than the collective or the EFL itself.

"After discussions with the board, we decided that the time is right for the EFL to now move in a different direction having concluded a number of commercial contracts that leave the league in a stable position. 

"I am happy to remain as CEO until after the play-offs, in order to conclude a number of outstanding matters that we are currently dealing with, after which I will move on to pastures new and hopefully make a positive difference elsewhere."

Debbie Jevans, interim chair of the EFL, said: "The EFL is in a strong position with a growing fan base throughout the world and Shaun deserves a lot of credit for this.

"Shaun and the board have agreed that the time is now right for a change of leadership and a new direction. We are pleased that Shaun has agreed to stay on until the end of the season."

Harvey is reported to have upset a number of Championship clubs after agreeing a new television rights deal that left some feeling undervalued and concerned that ticket sales would suffer due to the number of matches being broadcast.

He is the latest key figure to announce his departure in English football over the last year. Football Association chairman Martin Glenn is leaving in May, while the Premier League is yet to replace chief executive Richard Scudamore after Susanna Dinnage pulled out of taking the job in December.

 

Huddersfield Town have secured the signing of striker Karlan Grant from Charlton Athletic in a reported £2million move.

The Terriers, who lost 1-0 to Everton on Tuesday in Jan Siewert's first game in charge, are bottom of the Premier League and have struggled for goals throughout the season, scoring just 13 in the top flight.

Huddersfield will hope Grant can aid their survival bid after he signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at John Smith's Stadium on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old scored 14 goals in 28 League One matches for Charlton in the 2018-19 season.

"This club believes in talented young players and Karlan certainly fits that description," Siewert said. "He's a player I'm delighted to have the chance to work with."

Reports of discrimination in English football have risen for the sixth year in a row, according to annual figures.

A report published by Kick It Out, an inclusion and equality organisation operating in the game, shows the number of incidents of discriminatory abuse have increased by 11 per cent since last year.

Racism constituted 53 per cent of the 520 cases in 2017-18, a rise of 22 per cent from 2016-17.

Disability discrimination reports showed the greatest increase, with a jump of 107 per cent compared to last year.

The statistics are compiled from all levels of football in England, including Premier League, Football League, Women's Super League and non-league games. The majority of cases were reported via social media.

Kick It Out chair Lord Herman Ouseley said of the figures: "It is hugely disappointing to have to reveal, yet again, increasing levels of all forms of discriminatory abuse at football.

"While the increased reports reflect a greater inclination among fans to complain about unacceptable abuse, these trends reflect, in part, what is happening in the rest of society. Hate crime reports have doubled over the last year to more than 94,000.

"Football cannot be complacent about the risk to the game this represents. Much good work has, and is, being done to prevent and counter unacceptable behaviour. But, the professional leagues and their clubs must do more in a coherent and consistent way - exemplifying all the best practices applied by some clubs - to drive hateful and abusive spectators out of the game. 

"Equally, the FA and its county associations, as well as local leagues, must step up their actions to ensure compliance and enforcement at grassroots level."

Let's start with a caveat. You should never, ever as a spectator throw anything from the stands onto the pitch. As the saying goes, it is neither big, nor clever.

Having said that, there have been

Coventry City goalkeeper Lee Burge sustained an injury in the most bizarre fashion after he was hit in the head by a puck during an ice hockey match. 

Sunderland have terminated Didier Ndong's contract after he failed to return to the club for the start of the season. 

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