Tony Mowbray leaves Birmingham City as ex Celtic and Hibs boss steps down after surgery

Tony Mowbray has decided to step down as Birmingham City manager due to illness
Tony Mowbray has decided to step down as Birmingham City manager due to illness -Credit:Getty Images

Tony Mowbray has decided to step away permanently from the Birmingham City job to concentrate on his recovery to full health.

The former Hibs and Celtic manager, 60, has been on a medical leave of absence since March after undergoing surgery. Mogga only arrived at St Andrew's in January and led the club to four victories from eight during his short time in charge. Gary Rowett returned to the Blues in Mowbray's absence as he attempted to save the club from relegation. But their fate was sealed on the final day of the Championship campaign, despite beating Norwich City.

It leaves Birmingham looking for their fourth permanent manager in seven months as they prepare for life in EFL League One. Mowbray said: “As people will be aware, I am currently undertaking a period of extended convalescence following significant and unexpected surgery earlier in the year which required that I take a period of medical absence. Throughout this period, I have watched every Birmingham City game along with every training session, whilst I have remained in positive and constructive dialogue with Tom Wagner, Garry Cook and Craig Gardner.

“Over the very recent days, it has become apparent to me that I will not be fully fit to resume my duties as Manager of Birmingham City in the timescale that would allow the Club to best prepare for the forthcoming season and therefore, I have regrettably decided to step away from my role at this time. Once I have fully recovered, it is important to me that I then spend some quality time with my wife and my boys before I fully commit to work.

“I am extremely grateful to Tom Wagner for the genuine warmth that he has shown towards me during what has been a challenging time, not only for me personally but also for the Club. I firmly believe that under Tom’s stewardship coupled with the football expertise that Garry offers, Birmingham City have a very bright future ahead.

“I would like to thank everybody associated with the Club who has supported me during these unprecedented times, and I would like to especially thank the Birmingham City supporters for your affection, your kindness, and your support in the relatively short period of time I have been with the Club. Whilst I step down as Manager of Birmingham City, I now become a Blues fan and I wish everybody at the Club nothing but absolute success in the future.

“Once I have fully recovered and have spent some quality time with my family, I intend to make a return to football management at the appropriate moment. I hope that the privacy of my family and I will be respected at this time. Thank you for your ongoing support, Tony.”

Birmingham City Owner and Chairman of the Board, Tom Wagner, said: "We are disappointed that Tony will not be coming back to lead the team forward but respect his decision to put his health and his family first. In a short period of time at Blues Tony demonstrated excellent leadership skills and a work ethic that galvanised all around him. He is an outstanding human being and will always be welcome at St. Andrew’s @ Knighthead Park."

Chief executive Garry Cook added: “We have been looking forward to Tony returning to the Club and to continue the great work that he started earlier this year. Unfortunately, it is not to be. Preparation for the new season has already begun and Tony told us that, based on his treatment and recovery programme, he would not be able to do the job that is required before the new season begins.

"I would personally like to commend Tony for informing us of his decision so soon after the end of the season. It provides us the opportunity to undertake a rigorous search process to identify the right leader to take our club forward and have that person in place before the start of pre-season. On behalf of everyone at the Club, and our supporters, I would like to thank Tony for the excellent job that he did for Blues. We wish Tony a full and speedy recovery.”