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Stephen Clemence confirmed as Gillingham’s head coach

Stephen Clemence has been announced as League Two Gillingham’s head coach, his first managerial post.

Clemence, son of the late England goalkeeper Ray, was part of his former Birmingham manager Steve Bruce’s coaching staff at various clubs, including Newcastle, Aston Villa and Hull.

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The 45-year-old will be assisted by the former Sunderland coach Robbie Stockdale, who spent the 2021-22 season in charge of Rochdale before taking backroom roles at Hull and MK Dons.

Kenny Jackett, the director of football, has led the search for Neil Harris’s successor and the former chairman Paul Scally, who remains a minority shareholder and is on the board, has also been involved in the process. Harris was sacked with the club eighth in League Two.

This week the American majority owner, Brad Galinson, said he wanted the incoming head coach to play an entertaining style and downplayed the significance of managerial experience.

“What is not on the [wanted] list are things like what formation do they play, have they coached before, are they old, or young, have they coached Premier League, have they been assistant coach, do they have League One, Two or National League experience?” Galinson said. “To me, those things are secondary to make the formula work.”

Clemence worked as a longtime assistant to Bruce, whose last job was at West Brom. Bruce was sacked eight months into an 18-month contract.

Clemence succeeds Harris, who was sacked because the club said they wanted “to go in a different direction”, a surprise change predominantly born of a desire to shift the style of play. Clemence will be given the title of head coach, not manager.

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“The person we are hiring is 100% in charge of the first team, training, formations, technical area, but he is not in charge with recruiting and getting the players in, he is just part of that,” Galinson said this week.

On Monday the former Hull defender Alex Bruce, who worked alongside his father on the staff at West Brom, accepted his first managerial role at non-league Macclesfield. Seventh-tier Macclesfield – whose director of football is Robbie Savage – are a phoenix club of Macclesfield Town, who were wound up in 2020.