After very careful consideration, Widnes Vikings have made the decision to cease the operation of its Academy.
This decision has been a tremendously difficult one for all involved, however there are a number of factors that have contributed to the club reaching this conclusion.
The youth system has been a cornerstone of the club over the past decade, producing over 30 players who have gone on to represent the first team, with some going on to gain international recognition.
Despite this, a number of challenges have presented themselves in recent times which have made it increasingly more difficult to sustain an Academy.
The Academy pathway was significantly impacted following relegation and administration, with the club’s level of Academy funding decreased by 43% as a result of entering administration. In spite of this and the subsequent reduction in resources, the club maintained its Category 1 status and all concerned worked tirelessly to increase its output following the reintroduction of the reserve grade in 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated financial and logistical challenges has since placed further constraints on the club.
Current Academy licenses across the sport are due to expire at the end of 2021, and it has been indicated that Super League membership and the ability to draw players from non-heartland areas will be integral to successful reapplication.
After exploring every alternative avenue, the combination of these factors has led the club to this outcome. Ultimately, there are insufficient resources available at present to support both a competitive first team and an environment of the appropriate quality necessary for the development of young players.
The club is dedicated to providing all players with the appropriate support and ensuring they have the best possible opportunity to secure playing opportunities elsewhere.
The club would like to place on record its thanks to all of the staff, volunteers and partners who have been dedicated to making the Academy a success over the years.
We would also like to express our thanks to all of the players who have represented the Academy at all levels with distinction and pride.