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League Two: Forest Green Rovers make historic Hannah Dingley appointment

Forest Green Rovers have confirmed the appointment of Hannah Dingley as their new caretaker manager.

The League Two outfit, who suffered relegation from League One last season, sacked former Everton interim boss Duncan Ferguson on Tuesday.

Ferguson spent just six months in charge at The New Lawn and picked up only one win from his 18 matches, losing 14 and drawing three, as Forest Green, who are 33/1 to win the League Two title, finished bottom of the standings.

Dingley has subsequently been placed in charge on a caretaker basis and her first assignment is to oversee Wednesday's friendly at Melksham Town.

Dingley said: "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."

Who is Hannah Dingley?

Dingley was born in Carmarthen, Wales in 1983 and she will celebrate her 40th birthday on 19th July.

She signed up with Burton Albion in 2013 as an academy coach and stepped up to undertake a role with the senior men's team in 2016.

In 2019, Dingley was hired as the academy manager at Forest Green and became the first woman to manage a men's academy side in the English Football League.

The 39-year-old initiated Forest Green's girls academy in 2021 and she holds a Uefa Pro Licence.

Her appointment as caretaker manager with Rovers is a historic moment in the sport, as Dingley becomes the first woman to hold a managerial role with a men's team in England's top-four divisions.

The Green breaking down barriers

Forest Green aren't strangers to breaking boundaries and, in 2018, became the first football club in the world to be certified carbon neutral under the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, an initiative titled Climate Neutral Now.

Fifa subsequently described Forest Green as the "greenest team in the world".

Owner Dale Vince is a green energy pioneer and owns the electricity company Ecotricity.

"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," Vince said

"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."

What's on the agenda for Dingley?

Forest Green, priced at 11/4 to finish in the top seven, have traditionally been a non-League team and only secured promotion to League Two in 2017.

After five seasons in the fourth tier, Rob Edwards guided them to League One as they edged out Exeter on goal difference to win the League Two title in 2021/22.

Edwards' achievement was recognised higher up the ladder and he accepted the managerial role at Watford, with Ian Burchnall appointed as his successor.

With the club sitting bottom of the standings and struggling to adapt to the demands of League One, Burchnall was sacked on 25th January and Ferguson arrived as his replacement.

However, the Scot was unable to address their issues and Rovers finished the term 19 points shy of safety and bottom of the standings.

Dingley, who knows the club well from her time with the academy, will be eager to impress during pre-season as she seeks to get the job on a permanent basis.

The club have five pre-season fixtures scheduled before their League Two campaign gets underway at Harrogate Town on 12th August.

Before Dingley can start to dream of being in place for that trip to the EnviroVent Stadium, she will need to try and put her stamp on the team and make a case to Vince for reinforcing the squad.

Forest Green can be backed at 11/2 to secure promotion at the first time of asking, but look to have work to do.

Defender Ryan Inniss and midfielder Teddy Jenks have already been added to the squad, arriving on free transfers from Charlton and Brighton, respectively.

Midfielder Callum Jones has also agreed to spend the season on-loan from Hull, but more fresh faces will be needed after the departures of 10 players so far this summer.

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