The Government should assess the merits of the UK adopting a version of the Rooney Rule to boost ethnic diversity among managers and coaches in football, an MP has said.

There have been calls for the UK to take up the American system, which requires NFL teams to interview at least one black or minority ethnic candidate for senior coaching roles.

Former shadow sports minister Chi Onwurah said the fact that just three football managers in England's top four divisions are from an ethnic minority is evidence of "institutional failure".

Many footballing figures, including ex-FA chairman Greg Dyke, have called for a version of the Rooney Rule to be brought in.

Ms Onwurah said: "The numbers are ridiculous, they are very low. It is one of those very clear examples of institutional failure.

"There are many black players and that has been true for decades, yet we haven't seen almost any make it into coaching or management.

"That must be because of barriers, because I hope no-one is suggesting that black players are less likely to have the skills that coaches or managers need."

The Labour MP said it would help immensely if there was greater clarity over whether it would be legal for the US-style system to be introduced.

Ms Onwurah tabled a parliamentary question asking the Government to assess the potential benefits of changing the law to introduce it in the UK, but sports minister Tracey Crouch said there are no plans to introduce the provision.

The Albion's Chris Hughton, Carlisle United's Keith Curle and Grimsby Town's Marcus Bignot are the only BME managers in England's top four leagues.

Former England defender Paul Elliott gave the rule his "emphatic" backing.

He said: "What is it, 30% of players in the game are from BME yet we've only got three black managers? Historically it has got worse.

"Of course I'm disappointed at those figures. There is a depth of talent, but many people, because they think they are going to get excluded, because of the glass ceiling, say 'I don't want to get qualified'. We cannot afford to have that.

"There is a lot of good work going on in the game, but ultimately we judge it by visibility.

"We need to see greater influence, greater numbers out there and greater opportunities particularly at the top end of the game."

Piara Powar, executive director of Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe) said while the Government may have little appetite to legislate to bring the rule in, it should make it clear it is "watching" how clubs tackle the problem.

He said the football profession, which has a lot of ethnic minority players who through their career on the pitch have the skills to become managers, is "ripe for change".

"It could then have other benefits for corporate life and for diversity in the UK at a management level more generally", he said.

English Football League clubs have signed up to a Rooney Rule-style scheme for their academy jobs, but only a small number have volunteered to extend this to their team head coaching roles.

Bobby Barnes, deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said he hopes it will be introduced voluntarily by clubs.

He said: "The Rooney Rule is not something to be frightened of.

"All we are asking is the opportunity that everybody, regardless of colour or creed, gets the opportunity to showcase their talents by way of an interview - to actually be in the race.

"And we felt there were a lot of BME coaches who weren't even allowed to be in the race."

Answering the parliamentary question, Ms Crouch said the Government is committed to tackling inequality and welcomed the English Football League's rule change that ensures clubs will always interview at least one minority ethnic candidate when coaching positions open up at academy level.