Hannah Dingley joins Marcus Rashford as problem for Newcastle journalist and Saudi ignorer

Editor F365
Hannah Dingley and Newcastle owner Yasir Al-Rumayyan
Forest Green Rovers caretaker manager Hannah Dingley and Newcastle owner Yasir Al-Rumayyan

Forest Green Rovers have appointed *a woman* as caretaker manager after sacking Duncan Ferguson – and the ‘PR stunt’ rankles with one Newcastle reporter.


It takes a lot to drag Luke Edwards away from the tireless pastime of thanking his Saudi overlords as he wipes away the latest crumbs of news they spoon-feed him about Newcastle (before making him look very silly indeed by doing the opposite to what he has been told).

‘It is likely to mean an exciting summer on Tyneside with the club targeting at least four “elite players” who will be able to immediately challenge for a first-team place,’ he wrote on April 17.

‘They have spent around £250 million on new players in the three transfer windows combined, but are planning to sign at least four elite players to boost manager Eddie Howe’s squad ahead of their return to European football. It will not be cheap and although sources have been careful not to give an exact figure for their budget, Telegraph Sport can disclose how they intend to navigate their way through FFP rules,’ he wrote on April 18.

‘Sources have told Telegraph Sport that Newcastle are likely to spend more in this window than they have done before under their Saudi Arabian owners,’ he wrote on May 23.

Four “elite players”. FFP won’t be a problem. Biggest window under Saudi Arabian ownership yet. Please, Yasir Al-Rumayyan sir, can I have some more?

‘Newcastle United could sign only two players this summer as they are unable to fund a major squad overhaul due to Financial Fair Play rules,’ he wrote on June 12.


That is nothing compared to Edwards stating on June 25 that Newcastle would ‘pause and reflect before deciding what to do next’ after signing Sandro Tonali as a’ big chunk of funds has gone on the Italian and there is desire to move players out as well to free up wage space. Patience needed’.

By the literal next day, Edwards was exclusively reporting that the Magpies were ‘in advanced talks’ over Tino Livramento, presumably having paused and reflected for an hour or so.

But in between getting every budget and plan for Newcastle’s post-takeover transfer windows completely and utterly wrong as he blindly toes whatever party line he is told by his completely anonymous and unidentifiable sources, Edwards has shown a unique capacity to make himself look really foolish when given the chance to express his very own opinions.

Remember when Marcus Rashford had to pick between feeding children and being good for Manchester United? Great times. A truly worthwhile and noble use of an enviable platform. Fight that good fight, Luke.

When somehow faced with criticism after that article in January 2021, Edwards complained that no-one had bothered to ‘actually read what has been written’ as the ‘dash to be offended’ meant an awful headline overshadowed such sagacious thoughts as: ‘When most players sleep the afternoon before a game, was Rashford head [sic] too full of thoughts to do so?’

Edwards played that card again on Thursday morning in response to more backlash towards another article by tweeting, ‘A lot of reactions calling me all sorts of names. I suggest you actually read it though. Lots clearly haven’t,’ about paywalled content. Why does this keep happening specifically to him?

So Mediawatch already knew to give Edwards the benefit of the doubt when seeing this Daily Telegraph headline:

Football’s ‘first female manager’ risks being nothing more than a PR stunt

Following that up with a sub-headline of ‘Plus: Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes says she hopes Dingley will be judged on her coaching abilities rather than being judged as a woman’ is fucking stunning work, by the way. Great start on that front.

But look, Edwards might have been stitched up by the subs here. A quick search suggests he had never written about Forest Green Rovers before feeling apparently compelled to do so now, yet that is purely coincidental and as someone who has presumably long tracked the career of Hannah Dingley, he is in the best position of anyone to pontificate.

So let’s bother to actually read what has been written instead of dashing to be offended.

The appointment of Hannah Dingley as head coach of Forest Green Rovers is undoubtedly a landmark moment in men’s football, the first time a woman has been put in charge of a professional team in this country, but it also has the unmistakable whiff of a PR stunt.

Oh fucking hell.

Always good to get clarity on the important stuff, though. Woman temporarily gets a managerial job: PR stunt. Actual football club is bought by murderous regime for sportswashing and geopolitical soft power purposes: haha, look at the pretty Newcastle lining on the rich man’s jacket!

With no sense of irony whatsoever, Edwards aims a couple of digs at ‘publicity hungry chairman’ of Forest Green, Dale Vince, and his ‘self congratulatory’ actions and words, having spent the best part of two years lapping up everything dropping down from the ownership at Newcastle.

Again: veganism and green energy = bad. All that uncomfortable stuff we’d really rather not specifically mention but everyone already knows about = fine.

‘We need to wait and see before we assess how transformatory this moment is,’ Edwards writes. Is ignoring actual words like ‘transformative’ or ‘transformational’ to use one that doesn’t exist also a PR stunt? Perhaps.

‘Let us reserve full judgement until we know whether she is still in charge of the team when the real season starts,’ he adds, having already undermined the entire appointment with a pretty ‘full judgement’ of this all being for PR because Hannah Dingley is *shudders*… a woman.

Hannah Dingley is also a qualified coach with a UEFA Pro Licence, more than a decade’s worth of experience working with the academies of Notts County, Burton Albion and Forest Green Rovers, a master’s degree in sports coaching and a past as a university lecturer in sports coaching practice – it’s an awful lot of effort to put into a ‘PR stunt’ with a League Two club. And if you remove gender from the equation, not a single eyebrow would raise

In her own words: “I have had to do exactly the same courses as the men. They would feel perfectly within their rights to work in the women’s game.” Dingley is more qualified than many male managers who have strolled into high-profile jobs but she has breasts so PR or something.

And besides, this is all meaningless unless Dingley gets the job full-time; that is apparently ‘the true test of this ‘landmark’ appointment’.

By the way, is Edwards aware of how laughably childish he looks by putting ‘landmark’ in quote marks after using the word freely in his own opening paragraph?

For this to really matter, to be truly revolutionary, Dingley needs to be considerably more than someone making sure pre-season runs smoothly while the club interviews others for the job.

a) You, Luke Edwards, are not the arbiter of whether this ‘really matters’ or not, and b) it already ‘really matters’ to a hell of a lot of people, whether or not she is eventually made permanent manager.

The claims this is a huge moment for women in football will feel a little weak if, after a couple of weeks, Dingley is back in her role looking after the academy.

Like how most interim managers return to the job they were doing excellently for the club beforehand, you mean? Were Aaron Danks, Adam Sadler, Michael Skubala, Ryan Mason, Steven Davis, Bruno Saltor or Aaron Danks pointless, wasted Premier League appointments or ‘PR stunts’ last season because they weren’t made permanent? Try telling everyone what makes them different to Hannah Dingley without making yourself sound like a knob.

Also, Mediawatch is not willing to be lectured about what looks or feels ‘a little weak’ in football from a journalist who has thus far entirely failed to show any backbone in holding the deeply questionable owners of the club he reports on to account because it’s easier to parrot whatever lines they deign to give you.

Keep this chin-stroking energy up and then we’ll talk, because you’ve shown more opposition to Forest Green Rovers temporarily appointing their most experienced current coach (who happens to be a woman) as caretaker manager, than you have to the murky Newcastle stuff at any point.

The optics of a Saudi lickspittle questioning the employment of a woman to a temporary role for which she is very much qualified in an entirely male-saturated industry are uncomfortable enough, long before wondering why the Telegraph’s northern football writer felt compelled to weigh in on the decisions made by a team based in Gloucestershire.

Then it must be taken into account that Edwards is helping to report on the Women’s World Cup for the same outlet which green-lit and published this utter drivel. Although he will surely be spending most of his time questioning the ‘PR stunt’ of having men like Futoshi Ikeda, Peter Gerhardsson, Vlatko Andonovski and Herve Renard managing at the tournament.

And it is strange that Edwards never did comment on Forest Green Rovers appointing Duncan Ferguson and getting him to eat loads of vegan food in a far more naked PR grab than this perfectly sensible choice.

Edwards did get one thing right: there’s an ‘unmistakable whiff’ alright. But it isn’t emanating from Forest Green Rovers.

But the final word should go to Dingley, who told an unusually busy press conference on Wednesday:

The important thing is role-modelling for other female coaches and young girls and growing up knowing that anything is possible if you work hard enough. It’s the first and it’s great, but I don’t want to be the only. It’s slightly disappointing that, as the first female academy manager, I’m still the only one. If we want change to happen we need more females in these positions throughout clubs. We need more opportunities. This is about those players in the changing room. It’s about them getting the preparation they need for the campaign ahead, nothing should distract from that. The team are the priority. This isn’t a gimmick.

If only.