Updated Widnes Vikings Statement

Updated Widnes Vikings Statement widnesvikings.co.uk

23rd September 2018

A statement to Widnes Vikings' Stronghold Members, Supporters, & Partners from CEO James Rule...


This season has been an incredibly challenging one for everyone associated with the club. Whilst Widnes Vikings face many limitations, our aims are set far higher than we have been able to demonstrate on the field in the past two seasons. We are sorry for how this year has unfolded and determined to re-build our squad for 2019, with the intention of returning to the Betfred Super League.

At present, there is much uncertainty, as we try to shape these plans. However, some things are absolutely clear. We know that we want to retain the talented home-grown players that we have spent years nurturing and developing, who we believe can be the spine of this club for years to come. These players have grown up with our club, feel a genuine sense of pride in representing Widnes Vikings and believe that they can build a successful future together. Significant efforts have gone into retaining them for the future in recent months, and we hope to be able to confirm their commitments soon.

There is also a core group of senior players who show real pride, dedication and commitment in representing this club, and we also aim to retain this talent. Naturally relegation will also see several players leave this club - some by our choice and others who will naturally wish to ply their trade in the Super League, by terminating their contracts. We are committed to maintaining our duty of care to these exiting players, by being fair and supportive, within the significant challenges that we face in stabilising the club during this period of uncertainty.

We now enter a short window where these plans must be confirmed. To support this process, it is vital that we have some clarity around our available budget for next season. Every individual or business who confirms their support over these coming days, by signing up for 2019 Viking Stronghold Membership or committing to sponsorship, will have a direct impact on our ability to retain the best of our talent and enter the transfer market.

We will aim to keep Members and supporters as updated as possible throughout this period, and thank you for your patience during this time.

Naturally, we must respect the integrity of the competition, as we head into the final game of the season against Hull KR, and the most significant action will be taken following the conclusion of the season next week.

The results of the past two seasons have been unacceptable and whilst there has been significant disruption on the field, we know that we need to fundamentally address this issue. The club is privileged to have some very dedicated, skilled and passionate individuals in its performance department, but there is no doubt that there will be changes in this area as we look to get the best from our players.

Important decisions also need to be made soon with regards to the coaching arrangements at Widnes Vikings. Whatever is decided in this arena, I would like to put on record the club’s thanks and gratitude to Francis Cummins. Francis was brave enough to step up in the most difficult of circumstances and has shown great character and commitment in his time as Interim Head Coach. He was handed a challenging role in the late stages of the season, and whilst results have not turned for him, we are grateful for his efforts.

We also know that we cannot allow the progress made by this club to arrest. Widnes Vikings are one of the great clubs of rugby league, and we want to restore pride in our team. We have some exceptional people in our organisation, with many examples of high-quality work both on and off the field, and we need to sustain these strong foundations. Together we can help restore Widnes Vikings to Super League status.

We face a pivotal moment right now, and the continual backing of our Members, supporters and commercial partners is vital to sustaining this club. If we all unite behind the club, we can progress from this moment and ensure that it is here for generations to come - if support waivers, we face an uncertain future. 

It has been heartening to see more than 1100 people sign up for the 2019 Viking Stronghold Membership. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has made this commitment.

If you haven’t already signed up for 2019, I would urge you to do so, as soon as you can. Membership is the life-blood of this club. In a literal sense, every Member counts in this club, and we need the collective backing of our supporters to be able to compete next season. When you sign up to be part of the Stronghold, you are helping to protect Widnes Vikings for generations to come.

With this in mind, we are extending the free finance and free junior membership offers for the next four weeks. These ensure that the Stronghold Membership is competitively priced, and we hope encourages our supporters to make the commitment.

To our business community, your backing is equally valued and appreciated. Your contribution to this club through sponsorship is absolutely vital to the ongoing success of this club. We know that this change in status will not affect our abilities to raise profile, innovate and add value to our commercial partners, providing them with a strong return on investment. We are also committed to sustaining the community programmes that so many of our business community and local people value.

I will end as I started by both apologising on behalf of the club for our experiences this season and assuring you of our long-term commitment to, and belief in, Widnes Vikings. This club is too special to too many people and has too much potential to see it fail. We must unite and progress from this point. We are grateful to you for whatever contribution you make to this endeavour.

Thank you,

James Rule, CEO, Widnes Vikings 

Updated Widnes Vikings Statement widnesvikings.co.uk