Ex-Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray takes 'formal leave of absence' from Birmingham City

Birmingham City have appointed Gary Rowett until the end of the season.
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Former Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray will take a "formal leave of absence" from Birmingham City until the start of next season.

The Blues have announced that former manager Gary Rowett will take over at St Andrew's Stadium until the end of the season with the club fighting relegation.

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Mowbray confirmed earlier this year that he would be spending a spell away from the touchline at Birmingham City as the former Middlesbrough and Sunderland man undergoes treatment for a health issue.

Birmingham City say that the decision to appoint Rowett was taken at the beginning of the international break in conjunction with Mowbray who played a role in identifying Rowett as the "right" manager to take the team forward till the end of the season with eight games remaining.

The Blues also state that Mowbray's "medical leave of absence" will allow their manager to "focus 100 per cent on being with his family and making a full recovery following his recent health challenges".

Assistant Mark Venus will also take a leave of absence but will rejoin the club at the same time as Mowbray. The Blues have also announced that first-team coaches, Ashley Cole and Peter Shuttleworth, alongside goalkeeper coach, Maik Taylor, will remain at the club as part of Rowett’s coaching staff.

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“The board and club Leadership fully support Tony’s decision to take time to focus on his health and his family," Birmingham City owner Tom Wagner said. "We continue to wish Tony and his family the very best. 

"Based on Tony’s decision to take some additional time away, we agreed it is in the Club’s best interests to appoint Gary Rowett to lead the team forward from the touchline for the final eight games of the season. Gary is an experienced leader and has our full support.”

Chief executive officer, Garry Cook, added: “The team is in a challenging position. A strong leader is needed to guide the players through to the end of the season. Tony wanted to be part of the solution, so together we agreed to identify an interim manager.

"Gary Rowett was the number one choice. We are pleased to welcome Gary back to Blues. He has the necessary experience and the requisite passion for the Club and our loyal fans. Gary will be provided all the support needed to keep the club in the Sky Bet Championship.

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We all look forward to welcoming Tony and Mark back to the Club before the start of next season and continue to wish Tony a speedy recovery.”

Mowbray was named manager of Birmingham in January, just over a month after Sunderland sacked him. Following his appointment at the Stadium of Light in August 2022, Mowbray, a former Middlesbrough captain and manager, led Sunderland to the play-offs last season before departing.

Ex-Everton and Derby County player Rowett was sacked at Millwall last year following four seasons in charge at The Den after the club slipped to 15th in the Championship. Millwall gained four wins from their opening 11 league matches this season and were just three points off the play-off places before Rowett's dismissal. Rowett spent two years as manager of Birmingham City between 2014 and 2016 taking charge of 106 games before stints in control of Derby County, Stoke City and Millwall.