Widnes takeover: Administrators agree deal to save Championship club

Anthony Gelling in action for Widnes Vikings against Toronto Wolfpack
Widnes have started the season with two wins from three Championship matches

Administrators have agreed a deal with a consortium to take over and save Widnes Vikings, which will be formally ratified on Friday.

The new private limited company, Widnes Rugby League Club Limited, has already been registered with Companies House.

Widnes were placed in administration last week, prompting fans to begin a fundraising campaign which has raised more than £100,000 in support.

It means Sunday's home game with Featherstone is likely to go ahead.

Later on Thursday, the club confirmed the members of the consortium were Chris Price, Jason Shaw, Roger Harrison MBE, Stuart Murphy, David Dean, Tracey Glendinning, and Rod Steele.

Shaw's presence on the board means Widnes' supporters Vikings Quids In group (VIQI) who have been a major part of the fundraising drive, have representation on the board.

A Vikings statement added: "At this stage, Sunday's home game against Featherstone Rovers remains scheduled to go ahead.

"The club would like to thank supporters, the town of Widnes, club sponsors and the rugby league community for their incredible support in the last week.

"Without that backing, this solution would not have been possible."

While the Vikings were in administration, last weekend's game against Sheffield Eagles was postponed because of insurance reasons.

"It's been really difficult for everyone involved in the club," Vikings boss Kieron Purtill told BBC Radio Manchester.

"The hardest thing so far is not being able to do anything. We've not really trained as a group since Thursday, when we got told. There's been a lot of sitting around, waiting around and trying to find out what's happening.

"The community has been absolutely fantastic. From young children handing their pocket money over, to people making donations, it's been overwhelming."

Ian Clark from the Widnes Independent Supporters Society fans group told BBC Radio Merseyside: "I'm absolutely over the moon.

"It's our club, we've fought all week, all the fundraising activities going on. It's been humbling and it's amazing there's an end product, saving us from the threat of liquidation."

Widnes prepare 'as normal' for Sunday's game

Despite being saved from liquidation, Widnes will be handed a 12-point deduction under the Rugby Football League's insolvency rules, which only apply once a club is taken over and the membership of the league awarded to the new owners. This will leave them on minus-eight.

Sunday's game against Featherstone will be a tough one for the Vikings, who have not been able to train or play during the recent administration issues.

"We'll be looking for [a result]," Purtill added. "The players are due in tomorrow and we'll come in tomorrow to see what's happening.

"Emotionally, the boys will play, but physically, they're not in the ideal state to play. We'll have to handle that and manage that as well.

"If we have to play this week (and we've not been told otherwise) we'll get ready to go."

Widnes' rich history

The Vikings are one of the most recognisable names in English rugby league and enjoyed their most successful era in the 1970s and 1980s, winning three league championships, four Challenge Cup finals and the World Club Challenge in 1989 during that period.

Among their stars were Martin Offiah - who left the club to join Wigan for a then-record £440,000 - Andy Gregory, Joe Lydon, Tony Myler and Kurt Sorensen.

But they fell on hard times after being relegated from Super League in 2005 and went into administration two years later, before being taken over by local businessman Steve O'Connor.

The Vikings returned to the top flight under the licensing system in 2012 but did not finish any higher than seventh in the table during their most recent spell in Super League.

Widnes won their first two Championship matches this season, before losing 30-6 at Toronto Wolfpack last weekend.

Widnes' glory years team
Widnes won a glut of honours during the 1970s and 1980s - their heyday as the 'Cup kings'