Birmingham appoint Gianfranco Zola as their new manager
Last Updated: 14/12/16 8:59pm
Birmingham City have appointed Gianfranco Zola as their new manager following the sacking of Gary Rowett.
The Blues announced on Wednesday that they had parted ways with Rowett, despite Birmingham sitting seventh in the Sky Bet Championship and just three points behind Reading in third place.
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Sky Sports News HQ revealed on Wednesday afternoon that Zola had been in Birmingham for talks with the club and he has now signed a two-and-a-half year deal at St Andrew's.
The developments come in the wake of the new Chinese owners - who took control in October - making three new boardroom appointments on Monday.
A club statement read: "The club is delighted to announce that Gianfranco Zola has been appointed our new manager.
"The former Italian international, West Ham United and Watford manager, 50, was identified by new owners Trillion Trophy Asia Limited as the ideal man to lead the Blues forward in a new direction.
"Joining Gianfranco are Pierluigi Casiraghi and Gabriele Cioffi as First Team coaches, Kevin Hitchcock (goalkeeper coach) and Sebastiano Porcu (video analyst)."
Zola has been out of work since leaving Qatari club Al-Arabi in June. He was in the running to take over at Hull City in the summer but the deal did not materialise.
After retiring in 2005 he had a spell as Italy U21 assistant coach before taking over at West Ham in 2008. He then led Watford to the Championship play-off final in 2013 but resigned the following season.
He was sacked after less than three months in charge of Serie A side Cagliari before his appointment at Al-Arabi last summer.
Birmingham director Panos Pavlakis said: "We are delighted to welcome Gianfranco and his backroom team to the club.
"His pedigree, philosophy and ambition fits with what we would like to achieve as we move in a new direction.
"Gianfranco has a wealth of top-level experience as both manager and player and we are extremely excited about his appointment."
His first match in charge will be against title-chasing Brighton, who visit St Andrew's on Saturday evening, live on Sky Sports.