Solbakken named as new Wolves manager

Ståle Solbakken has been appointed as manager of newly relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers, the club announced on Friday.

Solbakken named as new Wolves manager
Photo: Erlend Aas/Scanpix (File)

The 44-year-old Norwegian will officially take over from Mick McCarthy on July 1st. Terry Connor, who struggled as McCarthy’s temporary replacement, will remain part of the club’s coaching staff.

“I am delighted to be taking up the important challenge to manage Wolves,” Solbakken told the club’s website.  

“It's an exciting opportunity to manage a great club and I can't wait to get started."

Solbakken takes over a team that went into freefall after McCarthy got the sack in February, with Wolves becoming the first team this season to drop out of the Premier League.

The Norwegian, capped 58 times for his country, said he did not wish to comment further on his appointment until his official presentation to the media on Monday.

Ståle Solbakken, who formerly managed top Danish side FC Copenhagen and FC Köln in Germany, becomes the first person outside of Britain or Ireland to manage Wolves.

“It’s a wise and good decision by both parties, and it’s fantastic timing for Ståle,” Lars Tjærnås, former Wimbledon assistant manager and a fellow Norwegian, told news agency NTB.

Solbakken played just six games for Wimbledon during his only spell in England as a players.

“He comes to a club with a culture and philosophy that should suit him, as well as a league and style of play that will match what he stands for,” Tjærnås added.

For Solbakken, the new job marks a swift return to football after FC Köln sacked him with four games of the season left to play. Like Wolves, Köln too were relegated from their country’s top league.

Solbakken’s playing career ended in 2001 when he suffered a heart attack and had a pacemaker implanted.

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Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.