Manager steps down from relegated EFL club after 'unexpected' surgery

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Another manager has departed following the conclusion of the Championship relegation battle

Tony Mowbray has stepped down from his role at relegated Championship side Birmingham City to focus on making a full recovery from an ‘unexpected’ surgery that saw him leave the dugout in March.

The former Sunderland, Celtic and Middlesbrough boss took a medical leave of absence with Gary Rowett appointed on an interim basis at St Andrew’s until Mowbray was fit to return. However, he has now informed the club he will take more time out to recuperate further. Birmingham were one of three sides relegated from the second tier as they were sent down on the final day. Huddersfield Town and Rotherham United will also play League One football next term with Portsmouth, Derby County and Oxford United replacing them in the second tier.

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Birmingham are the third and final of the relegated Championship clubs to part ways with their manager after finishing in the bottom three. Leam Richardson was sacked by Rotherham United with three games remaining, although the Millers’ demotion had been confirmed long before that. Steve Evans has since replaced Richardson at the helm. Andre Breitenreiter left Huddersfield Town by mutual consent following the Terriers’ relegation and was eventually replaced by ex-Barnsley, Cheltenham Town and Swansea City boss Michael Duff.

Mowbray said of his decision: “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.

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“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 CEO, 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.”

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