ASIDE from giving Celtic fans a cracking song to belt out whenever he was sighted on match days, Carlton Cole made little impact during his time in this country.

The former England striker was 32 when he was signed by the Scottish champions back in 2015 and it quickly became apparent he wasn’t quite the same player he had been during his heyday at West Ham.

He only featured in five games for the Parkhead club and scored just one goal – in a Scottish Cup tie against part-time Stranraer at Stair Park – before being released.

He joined a long list of high-profile Premier League footballers who have moved north of the border at the tail end of their careers and failed to live up to expectations.

Yet, Cole certainly made a few people sit up in their seats and take notice last week when he stated during an interview with Sky Sports that the Rooney Rule, or a version of it, must be adopted by the top flight down south.

The Rooney Rule requires NFL franchises in the United States to interview, not necessarily hire, ethnic minority candidates for head coach and senior football operations positions.

Whether the edict has actually achieved its aim or not is a matter of some debate. The NFL currently has three African-American head coaches. That is exactly the same number as when it was brought in back in 2003.

Still, it is considered by many to be an excellent example of affirmative action, a policy that prevents discrimination based on race and positively supports members of groups which have previously suffered,from prejudice, and has been copied in many other industries.

"If the Rooney Rule is the only way that I can actually get in front of an owner so we can convince him I am the right man for the job then so be it,” said Cole.

It is easy to see why the one-time centre forward, who is now working as a West Ham academy coach, and so many others believe that such a radical step is necessary when the facts and figures are examined.

Nuno Espirito Santo of Wolves is currently the only BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) manager working in the Premier League.

In the English Football League, where clubs must consider at least one BAME candidate when they are searching for a new first team manager following a decision by the governing body last year, there are only five across three divisions.

It is, given the proliferation of black players in the senior leagues, an alarming anomaly which needs to be addressed.

The situation in Scotland is no less disturbing. When Kevin Harper, the former Hibernian, Derby County, Portsmouth and Stoke City winger, was appointed by Albion Rovers back in 2018 he became the first BAME manager in this country in 15 years. That is not a record of which SPFL clubs should be proud.

Harper, too, left the Cliftonhill club last month after being unable to reach agreement with the board over new terms. He helped Rovers avoid relegation on a miniscule budget during his tenure. But his past experiences must make him pessimistic of securing another position in the sport he loves.

“I probably applied to pretty much every club under the Premier League for jobs that were available and probably got two or three replies and one interview,” he told Sky Sports last week. “When I got the job I said it was disgraceful. In any other walk of life there would be outrage.

“Look at Scotland as a whole – there’s 40 clubs and if you break that down to a manager, assistant manager and coach that’s 120 people. When I went in there were no other black or ethnic coaches. Out of 120 jobs there was only me. That, for me, was wrong.

“I have never ever said I deserve a job just because of the colour of my skin. I want to be offered a job because I’m the best candidate. But I know for a fact my CV was better than people who were getting interviews.”

John Barnes, the Liverpool and England great whose time in charge of Celtic ended in him being sacked after less than one season following the humiliating cup defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, caused a bit of stooshie on social media last week when he suggested that black managers who are actually in jobs are jettisoned more quickly than their white counterparts.

It is a dubious claim that was vigorously contested. Personally, I think he is wrong. Results, not race, determine whether the individual who occupies the dugout keeps his job or is handed his P45. Football supporters and club directors couldn’t care less about the ethnic origins of who is in charge just as long as the team is performing well on the park. When they start to struggle then the writing is on the wall regardless of their background.

All the same, the upsurge in protests against systematic racism around the world following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis last month has certainly brought the treatment of aspiring black and ethnic minority coaches and managers in football into sharp focus and it is clear there is considerable room for improvement on that front.

Cole failed to make much of a mark during his brief stint in Scotland - but embracing his recommendation for the Premier League and bringing in some form of Rooney Rule here most definitely would.