Forest Green Rovers appoint first female head coach in English men’s professional football

Hannah Dingley has become caretaker head coach of Forest Green Rovers – Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers have appointed Hannah Dingley as their caretaker head coach, making her the first female to take charge of a men’s team at a professional English football club.

Dingley, 39, will be in the dugout for the League Two club’s pre-season friendly at Melksham Town on Wednesday night after being given her role following Duncan Ferguson’s departure from the New Lawn stadium.

The Welsh coach has been the only woman in charge of an EFL men’s academy and has held that position since 2019. She will oversee the preparations for the season after Ferguson only won a single game following his appointment in January, which led to relegation from the third tier.

“I’m really excited for this next step of my career,” Dingley said. “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.”

Two years ago Emma Hayes was linked with the AFC Wimbledon job but labelled it an insult to suggest it would be a step up from women’s football at the time.

Last month, Telegraph Sport reported that Brentford were to appoint former Leicester City women’s team manager Lydia Bedford as the new head coach of their Under-18s boys side in a landmark moment for women coaching. Now, Dingley will now become the first woman to take charge of a professional men’s team in English football.

“Hannah was the natural choice for us to be first-team interim head coach – she’s done a fantastic job leading our academy and is well aligned with the values of the club,” said Forest Green chairman Dale Vince.

“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.”

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