The Belles are delighted to confirm the appointment of Ciaran Toner as the new first team manager.
The former Northern Ireland international midfielder brings a wealth of coaching experience to the role, having progressed through to lead professional development phase coach at Rotherham United.
“The Belles is a historic club,” the 42-year-old said. “What I see now is a project of bringing the Belles back to where they belong.
“As a Pro License coach, I feel now is the right time to take on an ambitious project and this was a chance I just had to jump at.
“I really can’t wait to get going. I’m really grateful for Chris putting his faith in me. I don’t take it lightly. There is a big project on and I don’t see it as part-time. I’m really excited to see what we can do here so the hard work starts now.”
Born in County Armagh, Toner came through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur before spells with Leyton Orient, Lincoln City, Grimsby Town and Rochdale. He played alongside Rovers manager Grant McCann at international level, as well as assistant manager Cliff Byrne later in his career at Gainsborough Trinity.
After hanging up his boots, Toner spent seven years coaching within the Academy at Rotherham, where he helped to develop the likes of current Huddersfield Town midfielder Ben Wiles.
Belles strategic lead Chris Wood said: "Ciaran gave us a presentation that had real clarity on the path forwards and project ahead, along with a realistic plan to achieve this
"Many of our viewpoints and visions aligned so I am excited as I look to the future. This is somebody that has the experience in developing players, is very innovative in his approach, is good person, and I am convinced he can take us to the next level.
"We understand the appointment has taken slightly longer than initially intended but we went through an incredibly robust process. It was important we got to know Ciaran and ensure that he had our full trust for the project ahead.
"We were comfortable in taking the time required because the team was in safe hands with Shaun Hird and Paul Edmunds. We send our thanks and praise for how they have steadied the ship and kept the players together as a group. The players have thanked them and hopefully the fans will give them a great reception on Sunday."
Toner met with the Belles squad for the first time on Thursday. He will observe Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Rugby Borough - with Amanda Greenslade and Paul Edmunds set to oversee the Belles for the game - before taking training for the first time next week.