Forest Green Rovers, in a groundbreaking move for English football, have appointed their academy manager Hannah Dingley as the new first-team coach following Duncan Ferguson’s departure. The former Everton striker resigned from his position as head coach on Tuesday, following the team’s relegation from League One last season.
This development has presented an opportunity for Dingley to step in and lead the team. On Tuesday, Dingley, aged 39, assumed control of training and will be leading the team in a friendly match against Melksham Town on Wednesday. It is anticipated that she will continue to oversee the team’s pre-season preparations.
Hannah Dingley is the only female in charge of a men’s EFL academy team and holds a Uefa Pro Licence. She has previously worked at Burton Albion before joining Forest Green four years ago.
First woman to lead a men’s senior side
Although the move is temporary for now at least, Dingley will become the first woman to lead a men’s senior side in one of England’s top-four divisions.
Dingley told the club website: “I’m really excited for this next step of my career. Pre-season has just begun and the full season kicks off very soon. It’s an exciting time in football. I am grateful for the opportunity to step up and lead such a progressive and forward-thinking club.”
Forest Green chairman, Dale Vince, stated, “Hannah was the obvious choice for us as the interim head coach of the first team. She has done an exceptional job in leading our academy and shares the values of our club.” It’s perhaps telling for the men’s game that in making this appointment on merit, we’ll break new ground – and Hannah will be the first female head coach in English [men’s] football.”
On Ferguson’s departure, he said: “It had been a privilege to work with Dunc these last few months and this was a very difficult decision to make. I’m grateful to Dunc for joining us in such difficult circumstances and for all of his hard work at the club.