‘Football is in need of evolution’ – Forest Green open to appointing female boss

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Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
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Forest Green are considering male and female candidates for the head coach vacancy at the club and their chairman Dale Vince says it is “entirely feasible” they will make an appointment which sets a precedent in the men’s professional game.

The Gloucestershire club sacked Mark Cooper on Sunday and Vince said they had already had around 70 CVs, with applications coming from men and women.

Rovers, who became the first EFL side to appoint a female head of academy when they recruited Hannah Dingley in the summer of 2019, are well known for breaking new ground in football and Vince said they could be about to do so again.

“Our starting place is to have no prejudices. It’s entirely feasible we will appoint a type of coach that has not yet been seen in English football,” he told the PA news agency.

No woman has coached or managed an EFL or Premier League side to date. Emma Hayes, the Chelsea Women head coach, was linked with the vacancy at League One side AFC Wimbledon earlier this year.

When it was put to her that it would be a “step up” to coach in the men’s game, Hayes said: “Women’s football is not a step down from anything.”

Vince agreed with Hayes and said: “Joining us wouldn’t suit everybody, of course. We’ve got no misunderstandings about that.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was linked with a vacancy at League One side AFC Wimbledon earlier this year
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes was linked with a vacancy at League One side AFC Wimbledon earlier this year (PA)

“At the same time we have had around 70 CVs just yesterday and there’s an awful lot of interest. What we’re seeing in that interest pool is a big range of possibilities and we like that.

“We don’t do things conventionally, we’re not constrained by the way things are always done and we’re quite pleased to be in a position where we can choose with a blank slate approach and say, ‘Let’s find the very best person for the job’.

“Football is in need of evolution and change.”

Vince says his club are “quite relaxed” about waiting until the end of the season to secure the right candidate.

Men’s football is often criticised for continually re-employing the same small band of individuals, but Vince says there is no chance Forest Green will go down that route.

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“The same names get kicked around, don’t they?” he said.

“It’s happened to us already today, people saying to us, ‘What about that? What about that?’ What we’re not looking for is a ‘name’ like that, absolutely not.

“We’re not impressed to go out looking for somebody that’s got a name, that’s been in League One or League Two, or was an ex-footballer, we just don’t care.

“We’re interested in CVs, capabilities, personalities, character. That’s what we’re interested in and that’s what we will be trying to get to the bottom of in the recruitment process.”