Gianfranco Zola confirmed new Birmingham boss

Gianfranco Zola confirmed new Birmingham boss
By Eurosport

14/12/2016 at 21:27Updated 14/12/2016 at 22:27

Birmingham City have announced Gianfranco Zola as their new manager – just hours after the shock dismissal of Gary Rowett.

Chelsea legend Zola, who has previously managed West Ham and Watford in England, arrives with Birmingham seventh in the Championship.

He has signed a two-and-a-half year contract to manage the Championship club.

Rowett's contract, and those of his backroom staff - Kevin Summerfield, Mark Sale, Kevin Poole and Darren Robinson - were terminated with immediate effect earlier on Wednesday.

It is a surprise development at St Andrew's with Birmingham only outside the play-off places on goal difference after winning 2-1 at home to Ipswich on Tuesday night.

The Blues' previous two results were heavy 4-0 and 3-0 defeats to Newcastle and Barnsley respectively but they are the only two losses in the club's last seven league matches.

Birmingham's new owner Trillion Trophy Asia Limited (TTAL) announced the decision to relieve Rowett of his duties had been taken ''with a strategic, long-term view and with the club's best interests at heart".

A statement on the club's official website said: ''This has not been an easy decision to make.

''Gary came in and immediately stabilised the team amid difficult circumstances and during his tenure improved the club's fortunes on the field. He has conducted himself professionally on behalf of the club at all times and there is a genuine sadness at this course of action."

Birmingham player David Cotterill earlier tweeted his surprise at the decision.

With additional reporting from PA Sport