Hannah Dingley has created history by becoming the first female head coach in England’s top four divisions.
Following the departure of Duncan Ferguson, Forest Green Rovers, situated in Gloucestershire, have recruited Dingley as caretaker manager.
She was in charge of the Rovers’ first preseason game, a 1-1 draw against non-league Melksham Town. They have three more friendlies before their first 2023/24 League Two match on August 5 against Salford City.
The Sporting News examines Dingley’s footballing background and why Forest Green chose her for her current position.
Why was Forest Green employed?
Forest Green were demoted to League Two last season after winning only six of their 46 league games. Ferguson was appointed in January 2023 to try to maintain Rovers in the Premier League, however he was unable to do so.
Dingley was the best candidate for the caretaker post due to her performance as the club’s academy director.”Hannah was the natural choice for us to be first-team interim coach,” Forest Green chairman Dale Vince said. She’s done an excellent job guiding our academy and is fully committed to the club’s principles.”
Her previous experience with the club means she is already familiar with the surroundings and understands what is expected of her as a caretaker manager. She also expressed gratitude on the club’s website for the opportunity to “lead such a progressive and forward-thinking club.”
Who exactly is Hannah Dingley?
Dingley, 39, was born and reared in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire. She has always had a passion for football and began coaching while studying at Loughborough University. She coached the university boys’ team as well as men’s non-league football.
During her stay at university, she received a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Science as well as a Masters of Science in Coaching. Dingley also gained job experience with Swansea City in her home country of Wales.
Her first professional coaching position was with Notts County Under-9 boys before moving on to Lincoln Ladies in 2011. She became a coach at Gresley, a non-league team in Derbyshire, England, two years later, and then joined Burton Albion as an academy coach the following year.
Dingley was the senior men’s team coach at Burton from 2016 until 2019. She was hired as Forest Green’s academy manager in 2019, and the FGR Girls Academy will open in 2021.
What distinguishes Forest Green from other English clubs?
Forest Green’s selection of Dingley is not the first time the club has created football history. The Rovers were named the world’s first carbon-neutral club by the United Nations in 2018. They were dubbed the “greenest team in the world” by FIFA.
Dale Vince, the proprietor of the renewable energy company Ecotricity, has served as the club’s chairman since 2010. Forest Green have rejected many of the traditional components of a football club under his leadership, putting green ideals at the heart of what they do. They became the world’s first all-vegan club in October 2015, and two years ago they wore a jersey made of recycled plastic and coffee-ground composite.
Forest Green, like Wrexham and AFC Croydon, has a well-known investor. Former Arsenal and Barcelona defender Hector Bellerin, a vocal environmentalist, will become the club’s second-largest shareholder in September 2020.
Will Forest Green get a raise?
Returning to the third tier of English football will be a difficult job. Forest Green will face stiff competition from recently promoted Wrexham and Notts County, as well as Stockport County, who finished second in the 2023 playoffs.
Rovers are 7/1 to be promoted at the end of the season, according to Sky Bet in the UK, ranking them 14th on that list. Wrexham are the 5/6 favourites.