JOHN WARD has returned to Bristol Rovers as their new manager.

Ward will be in charge for the rest of the season at least after being named as Mark McGhee’s predecessor at a press conference this afternoon.

It will be his second spell at the club, having previously managed them between 1993 and 1996.

Chairman Nick Higgs said: “Initially, John’s contract will be until the end of the current campaign, but it is the intention to extend his contract, with the agreement of both parties at the end of the season.

“It is vitally important that we bring somebody to manage the club that has Rovers connections and understands the Bristol Rovers values and John is the perfect candidate for this role.

“Hopefully, under John Ward’s guidance, we will return the pride to our club which has clearly been lacking on the pitch for the past few years, and to this end, I ask the players, staff and fans to get behind John and help him take us forward.”

Ward’s first mission will be to move the club out of the League Two relegation zone after McGhee was relieved of his duties following the 4-1 defeat to York Cityon Saturday.

Higgs said: “This decision was finally arrived at after consideration of the recent poor performances and our current position in League Two.

“There was a need to take decisive action and this was done following the final whistle on Saturday. I had no choice but to act now while we still have sufficient time to make whatever changes are necessary to get us out of the current predicament we find ourselves in.

“With the January transfer window looming we need to have somebody in place with time to assess the current playing staff and be ready to act once the window opens.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to Mark for his efforts; however the club must now move on.”

Ward was appointed manager in March 1993, too late to stop Rovers being relegated to the Division Two (now League One).

During the 1994/95 season Ward led Rovers to Wembley, where they lost 2-1 in the play-off final to Huddersfield.

Throughout his three year spell in charge he won 64 out of 149 league matches, and also led the club to the Southern Final of the Auto Windscreen Shield.

Ward began his managerial career at York City in 1991, after a playing career that saw him turn out for Lincoln, Watford and Grimsby.

Following his spell at Rovers, he went on to manage Bristol City before becoming assistant manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he went on to take caretaker charge following the departure of Colin Lee.

Ward was appointed Cheltenham Town manager in 2003, guiding them to promotion to League One at the end of the 2005/06 season.

He then moved to Carlisle United in 2007, and guided them to a play-off position in his first year in charge.

Ward joined Colchester United as assistant manager in September 2009 and took over as manager when Aidy Boothroyd left to take charge of Coventry in May 2010.