Gianfranco Zola: Birmingham City appoint ex-West Ham boss as manager

Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola has been sacked by West Ham, Italian side Cagliari and Qatari side Al-Arabi

Gianfranco Zola has been appointed the new manager of Championship side Birmingham City to replace the sacked Gary Rowett.

Former Chelsea and Italy striker Zola, 50, has signed a two-and-half-year contract with the West Midlands club.

Blues, who are seventh in the table, sacked Rowett on Wednesday after he spent more than two years in charge.

Club director Panos Pavlakis said Zola’s “pedigree” fits with Blues’ ambition to “move in a new direction”.

Zola’s first match in charge will be at home against Championship leaders Brighton on Saturday.

Zola’s last managerial job was with Qatari side Al-Arabi, but he was sacked in June after just one season. Prior to that the Italian managed West Ham, Serie A side Cagliari and Watford.

Birmingham were taken over by Chinese firm Trillion Trophy Asia in October.

Rowett’s dismissal and Zola’s appointment comes in the wake of the new owners making three new boardroom appointments on Monday.

Wenqing Zhao, Chun Kong Yiu and Zhu Kai, all existing directors of Hong Kong-based Birmingham International Holdings, have formed a new five-man board at St Andrew’s, alongside existing directors Pavlakis and Victor Ma.

Rowett was dismissed with Birmingham just outside the play-off places on goal difference after winning 2-1 at home to Ipswich on Tuesday.

The Blues’ previous two results were 4-0 and 3-0 defeats by Newcastle and Barnsley respectively – the only defeats in the club’s past seven league matches.

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