COWES Sports have announced the appointment of Steve Rutter as their first team manager.

Rutter, 50, who has deputised for caretaker manager and striker John McKie the past two months, will take over the reins once the Yachtsmen's Sydenhams Premier and Isle of Wight Senior (Gold) Cup fixtures this season are concluded.

Isle of Wight County Press: New Cowes Sports boss, Steve Rutter.New Cowes Sports boss, Steve Rutter.

McKie, who will remain in charge until the end of the campaign, was expected by many fans to take over the role on a permanent basis after his success in keeping the Yachtsmen up in the league, with two games remaining, but declined it to focus on playing and learning to coach under Rutter.

In a statement by the club, Cowes players and staff have given Rutter their full backing.

It continued: "Grateful thanks to John (McKie), his backroom staff and the players for their sterling efforts in retaining our Sydenhams Premier Division status.

"John has decided to stand down to concentrate his efforts on the pitch next season."

Isle of Wight County Press: Cowes player-boss John McKie will step down to focus on playing and coaching at the end of the season. Photo: Paul Blackley Cowes player-boss John McKie will step down to focus on playing and coaching at the end of the season. Photo: Paul Blackley

Rutter, the fourth manager in the hot seat since September, is an experienced, qualified FA coach, who played professionally at Gillingham and Maidstone United as a centre forward and semi-pro in Qatar, Iceland and at non-league clubs in the London area, such as Welling United, Gravesend and Northfleet and Dulwich Hamlet, as well as Worcester City.

On his appointment, Steve, who currently lives in Havant, said: "I'm really looking forward to getting the squad together and hitting the ground running in pre-season and the challenge ahead.

"I have really enjoyed working with John past couple of months. We are friends and have a great relationship, so when we discussed the role, I left it up to him if he wanted to take on the manager's role next season — and would have supported him in that.

"But John expressed a wish to concentrate on playing and building up his coaching knowledge and he told me to go for it, and the club offered the role to me, which I was happy to accept. 

"I am very excited about it, but I would not have taken it without John's support and blessing.

"There will be interesting times ahead. I'd like to strengthen the team in some areas, but there is a lot of talent at Cowes already — a great nucleus of players to work with."