Exclusive: Forest Green Rovers eye up Bristol City man for important recruitment role

Alex Scott is a wanted man, but Bristol City fans need not fear that with Brian Tinnion at the club.Alex Scott is a wanted man, but Bristol City fans need not fear that with Brian Tinnion at the club.
Alex Scott is a wanted man, but Bristol City fans need not fear that with Brian Tinnion at the club.
The Green are eager to speak with the Robins’ academy director as a replacement for now Portsmouth sporting director Rich Hughes.

With a wave of sackings and movement across coaching teams and backroom staff across the EFL, many are the conversations happening behind the scenes currently.

BristolWorld understands that Forest Green Rovers have contacted Bristol City as owner Dale Vince and his Nailsworth club look for a new director of football.

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Rovers announced the departure of Rich Hughes from the Bolt New Lawn to join Portsmouth five days ago, and are speaking to potential replacements, including City academy director Brian Tinnion, as per our sources in Gloucestershire.

Tinnion’s work with the Robins academy and youth recruitment is highly regarded and the Robins would not want to lose their former midfielder whose background work is having a major impact at Ashton Gate.

It was through Tinnion’s network of contacts that current first-team young stars Antoine Semenyo and Alex Scott were brought in to BS3, while the Robins have seen good academy involvement over the last years, from Bobby DeCordova-Reid, Joe Bryan and Lloyd Kelly coming through, to current crop Tommy Conway, Sam Bell, Ryley Towler, Cam Pring and Ayman Benarous.

The Bristol City academy is hopeful that there will be more players to make the step up in the coming seasons, with Tinnion leading the way and playing a pivotal role setting up loans across English football to help the young players develop.

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This season they include the 21-year-old winger Owura Edwards joining Ross County in the Scottish Premier League, and 20-year-old Towler linking up with AFC Wimbledon.

Previous loans for senior players now or previously in the first-team squad would count Zak Vyner joining Rotherham and Taylor Moore heading to Blackpool and Shrewsbury Town, while central midfielder James Morton went to Forest Green Rovers previously.

Another young talent brought in via Tinnion’s contacts, Ben Acey formerly of Guernsey FC, scored the equaliser for City’s unbeaten U21s side at Millwall on Monday. The Young Robins are top of their PDL2 table and on course to make the end-of-season play-offs for a third year running.

Meanwhile, a former Tinnion-inspired youth transfer saw Robbie Cundy rise through the ranks at Ashton Gate, after arriving from non-League Bath City, but turn down a new contract offer in the summer to join Barnsley where he is now excelling in League One.

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Bristol City U21s boss Ali Hines explained recently that the club must capitalise on Tinnion’s skills: “It’s fantastic. We’re fortunate to have Brian here and he does a great job.

“We’re very fortunate to have him and long may that continue.”

Tinnion made 551 appearances for the Robins, making the fourth most appearances for the club, only behind Louis Carey, John Atyeo and Trevor Tainton.

His 66th-minute winning goal against Liverpool in the 1994 FA Cup is one of the club’s most cherished moments of all time. An association with the West Country club now spans 29 years in different forms.

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And Forest Green Rovers are not the only side to have shown an interest in Tinnion. Back in 2019, Southampton wanted to speak to the youth talent spotter too, for a loans manager role, with Tinnion then staying loyal to the South West side.

A year ago CEO Richard Gould spoke about Tinnion’s promotion to academy director: “Brian’s appointment is a natural progression from his pathway manager role. His expertise in identifying and developing young talent is first class and we are looking forward to him taking the academy even further.”

It is unknown whether a new role and move to League One to join head coach Ian Burchnall appeals to Tinnion.

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