Next Forest Green Rovers Manager: Chairman Dale Vince wants to “break some new ground” in search for Mark Cooper’s replacement

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 13 April 2021, 12:47

We often see the ‘same old names’ linked with vacancies in the Football League.

However, one progressive EFL chairman is determined to “break some new ground” in his search for a new manager.

Forest Green Rovers cut ties with long-serving boss Mark Cooper on Sunday as his five-year tenure came to an end following a disappointing run of games.

Under-18s boss Jimmy Ball has been placed in interim charge until the end of the season as the 6th-placed Cotswolds club bid to claim an historic promotion into League One. Ball will look to make an instant impact at the helm of the senior side, who have are winless in six games and pointless from their last four outings.

Forest Green Rovers have already received nearly 100 applicants for the job, yet while Ball has the chance to manoeuvre his way into contention for the permanent post, chairman Dale Vince has revealed that he could opt to take a different direction in his hunt for Cooper’s successor.

What does this mean?

“We’ll recruit the kind of person perhaps that hasn’t been recruited before to be a head coach,” the chairman told BBC Points West.

“I don’t want to hint, but it could be,” Vince said when asked whether he could become the first chairman in English professional football to appoint a female manager.

“It is missing in men’s football, but so are BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] head coaches. Everything is possible with us, because we don’t come at this in any preconceived way or in a way it has always been done.”

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Jill Ellis lifted two World Cups with the US women's team

Making History

Since he became Forest Green chairman over 10 years ago, Ecotricity founder Vince has completely transformed the club, who won promotion into the EFL under Cooper in 2017.

He banned the sale of meat products and turned them into the first ever certified vegan club. They've been named the 'greenest team in the world' and are certified as carbon neutral by the United Nations.


Vince has installed solar panels and electric vehicle charging points at the stadium, the team plays on an organic pitch, and a couple of months ago the players sported a kit made up of coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles.

Vince constantly looks to innovate, break boundaries, and push the club forward with his recent comments making for an intriguing next manager search.

Two years ago Vince made history when he named Hannah Dingley as the first woman to be appointed academy manager of a Football League club. Vince has stated that he wants to find someone who fits the club’s philosophy and given that Dingley - a Uefa Pro Licence holder - knows first-hand about the club’s values, style, and commitment to youth, Vince could choose to make an appointment from within.

Who else could be in contention?

Emma Hayes is undoubtedly the stand-out name in the Women’s Super League, but Forest Green Rovers are likely to face a tough task in attracting her away from Chelsea, where she’s thrived since her appointment nine years ago.

Back in February, Hayes was linked with League One side AFC Wimbledon following the exit of Glyn Hodges; a rumour the hugely successful Hayes swiftly put to bed.

"I'm not looking for another job,” she said at the time. “I'm blessed with working with wonderful humans day in day out, and I think it's important for me to say this: when the football world is ready to adhere to the diversity codes, so that BAME communities plus women get the opportunities in men's football, I will see that as a step forward.

"I don't know why anyone would think women's football is a step down [in comparison to men]. The football world needs to wake up. While the game is played by a different gender, it's exactly the same sport."

Since then Hayes has added another trophy to her sizeable collection and remains on course for a stunning quintuple: Chelsea won the Community Shield earlier in the season, are through to the Champions League semi-finals, top of the WSL, and also have the chance to win the FA Cup.

So, in short, there’s absolutely no chance of Hayes leaving her post at this moment in time, however Forest Green Rovers could look to prise Hayes away from London in the summer. Although, given her continued success at Chelsea, a move to League Two - or even League One - appears unlikely.

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Chelsea women's manager Emma Hayes is chasing a stunning quintuple

Casey Stoney continues to make waves at the helm of Man Utd who are currently challenging Arsenal for a top-three finish.

Jill Ellis, one of the best female managers of all time, could be interested in the return to the dugout having left the United States women's team two years ago.

Ellis, who was born in Portsmouth, led the US to back-to-back World Cup triumphs and was recently linked with the England job but in the end Sarina Wiegman was named as Phil Neville’s replacement.

Pioneer Hope Powell, Brighton women’s manager since 2017, has played a huge role in transforming the women’s game in England, and has previously opened the door to a route into the men’s game. "If an opportunity presented itself that I fancied, I'm going to look at it - It doesn't mean I'm going to take it, though.”

Birmingham boss Carla Ward could be an option, as could the likes of former Wales manager Jayne Ludlow, ex-Scotland boss Shelley Kerr, and Frankfurt scout Helena Costa.

Stay tuned for odds in the next Forest Green manager market.

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