Community hoping to save Widnes Rugby League Club from Liquidation

Community hoping to save Widnes Rugby League Club from Liquidation
WIDNES, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: General stadium view ahead of the First Utility Super League match between Widnes Vikings and Leeds Rhinos at Select Security Stadium on February 14, 2016 in Widnes, England. (Photo by Jan Hendrik Kruger/Getty Images)

Under huge financial pressure, and after being relegated to the Championship in 2018, the Chesire community are hoping to save the Widnes Rugby League Club from Liquidation by creating a ‘Go Fund Me’ charitable fund.

News over the last few days has revealed that the Widnes Vikings board of Directors had declared for voluntary administration. This is due to financial strains on the organization, and the inability to secure a benefactor. The public statement made by the board, told supporters that;

‘The board wish to convey their sadness and disappointment at this course of action. But, having made extensive efforts in recent months to find investment opportunities, we have been unable to avoid this situation’.

That decision has tripped competition points being deducted by the Rugby Football League (RFL) – the governing body of the Super League Championship competition. Failure to meet operational guidelines, or financial security. This is a further blow to the teams goals, negating early wins in the 2019 season which is now under incredible pressure.

But in a show of community support, a ‘Go Fund Me’ has been created and is quickly generating funds which the community group hope will keep the famous Widnes Rugby League Club afloat.

Community support determined to save Widens Rugby League Club

A strong community spirit exists within Rugby League. Seen as a blue collar sport, many clubs have loyal support in the regions. And Widnes – located between Liverpool and Manchester – are demonstrating that bond with fans, in their fundraising actions.

A group called VIQI; meaning Vikings Quids In, is acting in the best interests of the both the club, and its support-base. Their website declares that VIQI are an independent fundraising organisation. A group who have supported Widnes Rugby League club for almost 20 years. They have stepped forward to help coordinate fundraising efforts to save the club.

An ambitious target of £100,000 is set, with donations made to a ‘Go Fund Me’ website. It has already raised £15,000. Efforts like the sale of merchandise, signed memorabilia and official club charitable evenings (where players are present) shows how quickly this determined attempt to stabilize the club, is building.

Notably, as an operation, player payments were confirmed this week. BBC Sport reported that the Widnes Rugby League Club had received March’s central distribution money from the Super League early, so that they were able to pay their players.

Rugby League community determined to ‘save’ Widnes Vikings

Community based efforts, like crowd-funding, are now being widely broadcast on social media. Twitter and Facebook are filled with statements of intent to offer donations and to communicate the desire to help the Widnes Rugby League club survive.

The RFL has declared they are in support of Widnes. ‘The club has played a significant role both in the history of the sport and also that of the town. Having spoken to many of the stakeholders involved over this period, we are well aware of the level of goodwill and support which still exists for the Vikings’.

It is in the interests of the RFL, of the Betfred Championship, that Widnes are saved from Liquidation. Fellow Super League clubs have vowed to support, with several making public donations and statements of encouragement.

That sense of community is similar across many sports, with Football and Cricket clubs all too often falling on hard times. It is the reaction, and the commitment that is generated by the public, that is often the social – and as shown with the newest efforts to save the Widnes Rugby League Club – and financial backing, to ensure the sustainable future of the organization.

If the £100,000 crowd-funding target is met, then it will be an aid to the administration steps. Peter O’Hara and Chris Brooksbank of O’Haras are now acting on behalf of the board. Working to pay debtors and to ensure the club can continue to compete in 2019. That is the long term goal.

Note: Sunday’s Championship game against the Sheffield Eagles has been postponed.

 

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