Club Statement

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  • #14090
    CJ91
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    In reaction to Sunday’s defeat at Whitehaven, Widnes Vikings would like to issue the following statement to our loyal supporters:

    Firstly, we would like to apologise to the supporters who made the long trip to Whitehaven on Sunday. Giving up a significant portion of your Bank Holiday weekend in order to support us is something that deserves a lot more in return, and we are sorry that we let you down.

    The purpose of this update is to address performances this season, the issues faced behind the scenes and to inform our supporters of the work that has been going on for some time now to ensure a more competitive squad for 2022 is in place.

    As mentioned at our Members Monday event, held on August 9th, we addressed the fact that recruitment for 2021 hadn’t paid off. Ahead of the current campaign, we had assembled a squad we were confident could compete for a play-off spot in the Championship, however this sadly hasn’t been the case.

    We have been without key members of our squad for prolonged periods of the season, with a significant percentage of our playing budget unavailable at key moments during the year. Injuries are part of the sport, however we could not have foreseen the long-term absences that we have had to contend with throughout 2021. We have learned from this experience and tried to manage this risk in our 2022 recruitment and retention so far.

    Every effort has been made to plug the gaps left by these absences, consistently between staff looking for recruitment opportunities throughout the year. This season, those opportunities have been harder to come by than ever before, with clubs reluctant to commit to long-term loan deals due to the potential of Covid-19 ruling out players and putting fixtures in jeopardy.

    Also, with loan signings, the needs of the parent club always come first, which we have seen with the recalling of Eribe Doro, Ellis Robson and Brad O’Neill. With an increase in fixture congestion at the top level due to Covid related postponements, opportunities to bring players in on loan deals are very limited. We have been lucky enough in recent weeks to be able to bring in Aiden Roden and Connor Aspey, however our attempts to add further players have been unsuccessful, in part due to transfer restrictions in place following the passing of the August deadline.

    One thing the club would like to put an end to are rumours that our financial position is to blame for not adding players to our squad. This is not the case, and the club is not in financial trouble.

    We understand supporters will have been worried to see only 16 players named on Sunday, however the sheer number of unavailable players made this unavoidable. 12 of the original 26-man squad put together for the 2021 season were unavailable on Sunday, along with our recent signing Lewis Hulme.

    Not all of those absences were injury-related, with long-Covid, work commitments, concussion protocols and player departures all playing a part.

    Of the 16 players who were named on Sunday, only 15 took to the field due to Owen Buckley suffering from sickness. Despite this, Owen put his hand up to be a part of the match day squad and made himself available if necessary, helping to cover in the case of any further injuries that may have been picked up on the day.

    The majority of our more experienced players were unavailable to play at the weekend, meaning half of the players named were aged 23 or under and had also made less than 40 career appearances.

    Clubs at all levels are experiencing issues similar to ours, in terms of injuries and covid-related lay-offs, however this has made it even more difficult to bring in players in the past few months. Recently we have seen Super League clubs loaning players from the Championship, such is the effect that the current situation is having throughout rugby league.

    Looking ahead to the future, we can assure our supporters that every effort has been made to ensure that a squad capable of competing in the Championship is in place for 2022. As early as March, work has been going on behind the scenes to identify players who can improve our squad and ensure the retention of key members of the current set-up.

    This has been seen already with the long-term retentions of Jack Owens and Danny Craven, which are key for the club moving forward. Key players Kenny Baker, Ste Tyrer and Owen Farnworth have also been tied down for 2022, with the exciting addition of Matty Fleming and the return of Sam Wilde.

    Our aim for next season is to have a squad of players experienced at this level and capable of performing in the Championship, with the majority of our recruitment already complete in order to achieve this.

    Out of respect for other clubs, some of our recruitment news cannot be revealed yet, but in the coming days and weeks supporters will see the shape of the 2022 squad come together. This will be the culmination of many months of hard work to ensure that next year will be a more successful one both on and off the field.

    We acknowledge that mistakes have been made, which have ultimately led to the situation we are in, and as a club we take full responsibility for this. We have already learnt from those mistakes, and are actioning our plan to ensure we are in a stronger position going into next season.

    Ultimately, though, we can’t achieve anything without the backing of our loyal supporters, who we understand are disappointed at this moment in time. If we can get through this difficult period together though, we will do all we can to ensure that it will all be worth it in the end.

     

    Fair enough, hopefully a better set of signings and performances ahead next year.

    #14091
    primrose viking
    • Posts: 62
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    That’s a refreshing post to read, and honesty is the best policy

    Thanks you for the update

    See you on Sunday

    #14092
    Viking25
    • Posts: 330
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    A needed and reassuring statement.

    This winter is the biggest the club have had in years. Have to get the recruitment right, if we don’t I really fear for our future

    #14093
    MT
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    Absolutely correct. It is obviously very positive that we are on a sound financial footing. We just need to put the right squad together as we can’t afford to be playing out (and mostly losing) a long drawn out series of dead rubbers again. Playoffs have to be the aim.

    #14094
    sandgroper
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    According to the LE Davy is proposing about £100,000 per club next year which with ST holders should give us a handy budget, supported by VIQI.

    It probably won’t match Beaumont and Koukash but we can’t help that. From the sound of it we have most of our signings sorted but kept under wraps in compliance with other club’s wishes.

    Just have to wait and see how the full squad looks, bearing in mind that the Board plainly realise the need for a bigger and stronger squad, particularly in the pack.

    #14096
    Royston Vasey
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    I’m a fan of the club and the news about financial stability is very good to hear.

    The promise about next season’s squad is also good news although having, as a fan, been bitten on more than one occasion over the past few years I will be a lot happier when I see a full squad on the books and the possibility of a team that can challenge for a play off spot actually trotting out onto the pitch.

    What still concerns me is what the team / 17 will look like when we take on Oldham at the weekend. Will we see a Halifax type of performance or a Whitehaven – will we be able to put out a full squad ?

    I’d give the statement a 7 out of 10 at this point to be honest.

     

    #14097
    Dan1
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    I wonder if we will announce Ince and Dupree in the days after the Oldham game?

    #14098
    primrose viking
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    I’m a fan of the club and the news about financial stability is very good to hear. The promise about next season’s squad is also good news although having, as a fan, been bitten on more than one occasion over the past few years I will be a lot happier when I see a full squad on the books and the possibility of a team that can challenge for a play off spot actually trotting out onto the pitch. What still concerns me is what the team / 17 will look like when we take on Oldham at the weekend. Will we see a Halifax type of performance or a Whitehaven – will we be able to put out a full squad ? I’d give the statement a 7 out of 10 at this point to be honest.

     

    Are you really that focused on one game.

    It’s a home game so let’s get there and enjoy it.

    See what you think of Tyler dupree if he is allowed to play

    #14099
    Royston Vasey
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    I’m a fan of the club and the news about financial stability is very good to hear. The promise about next season’s squad is also good news although having, as a fan, been bitten on more than one occasion over the past few years I will be a lot happier when I see a full squad on the books and the possibility of a team that can challenge for a play off spot actually trotting out onto the pitch. What still concerns me is what the team / 17 will look like when we take on Oldham at the weekend. Will we see a Halifax type of performance or a Whitehaven – will we be able to put out a full squad ? I’d give the statement a 7 out of 10 at this point to be honest.

    Are you really that focused on one game. It’s a home game so let’s get there and enjoy it. See what you think of Tyler dupree if he is allowed to play

    I ‘m not really sure what you are talking about, although I would say the old adage ‘one game at a time’ has merit.

    The statement from the club is very welcome – a assurance of relative financial soundness, an apology for the failure of the 2021 squad assembly and – in the case of the Whitehaven game – performance and a promise that we will get it right in 2022, but the key word in the last bit is ‘promise’. If you look through the thread of the Whitehaven match there are a couple of quite telling contributions.

    Mick George is a cantankerous, argumentative old git, who I actually think I’d get on really well with if we had a pint. No doubt we would argue about everything but I suspect it would be good fun and we would enjoy each other’s company. Look what he says about where he was at the time of the Whitehaven match and who he was with. One of the things you would never doubt about Mick is that he has been a Widnes fan for donkey.’s years. What he said about where he was speaks volumes for the state of the club and what has been slowly happening to the core support for years now.

    My point about the next game was, how many more will head to the local for a beer with family / mates next weekend ? What is there to suggest that we will have a full squad showing up ? If the players can’t make it why should people fork out money for the family to watch ? And if people do attend will they see the heartless dross that was served up last week ?

    As I say, I’m not really sure what you are on about but, yes, the Oldham game matters a lot – it is another of the, so far, many, many wasted chances to entice people to come and watch.

    Anyway, what’s this thing you have for Tyler Dupree ? If you are going to name check perhaps you could cite more recognisable names than a young third choice hooker.

     

     

    #14101
    Mick George
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    Actions speak louder than words so lets wait and see. I read it as they written the season off a long time ago and said fudge the fans who bought tickets, this cannot be washed over and is really poor. What happened to the transparency promised when the club was took over ?. Like quoted earlier what team will turn up for Oldham ?. In sport you are only as good as your last game and the crowd will be really low despite the apology which was everything we all knew anyways. Fans are not fickle anymore after years of hands in pockets it is the five times bitten once shy scenario. Maybe we should take on the Warrington song of “it’s always our year” or the England song “This time we’ll get it right”.

    Lets hope it is the latter.

    #14104
    The Vicar
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    Whilst I admire the club for the statement and its honesty , the comment about not being able to have forseen  long term absences is particularly naive when taken into account with our front row recruitment .

    A first choice hooker , out with a long term injury and no competent recognised replacement until we landed O’Neill as a loan cover . Who for me has been our best player this year.

    5 prop forwards in the squad , a teenager from the academy , a youngster in Farnworth and 3 ex SL props who all came with dubious fitness records .

    I think MG is correct about the season being written off , I just think it was written off before a ball was kicked. In whole its been the worst season in the last 10 years and we’ve had some shockers in SL , but this is second tier rugby and we are not competitive.

    The recruitment cannot be wrong this year .

    The Vicar

     

    #14105
    Dan1
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    The challenge from my perspective is we will have to go from very poor to good in the space of a 5 month off season. Its always better to progress and build, add 3 or 4 good players, train and develop the squad. So no doubting it’s a big challenge.

    It will also be the first time in decades that we won’t be able to promote 3 or 4 promising young players in to the first team, (Craven, Owens, Hatton, Tilleke, Farnworth etc) meaning recruitment will be even more important. It looks like we are using the Saints academy instead to sign ex players, admittedly they are a top side and not every player will make it but could still be a very useful Championship player (Cross, Tyrer, Spedding, Flemmimg etc)

    The other thing is our coach is unproven at this level, he’s been an assistant at Championship level and then a head coach in League 1, but he did have Dennis Betts as director of Rugby with him who had just come from a long coaching stint in SL. Again time will tell, this season has been a failure for a number of reasons as the club has highlighted.

    Let’s hope next year we are in good shape, we need to rebuild the squad, sign maybe 10 or so players (2 signed so far) and then see if Finnigan can operate at the top end of the Championship and get the best out of them. I think it’s a massive task and could go either way. Top teams like Featherstone, Halifax and Bradford are well establish and have a larger part time player pool to recruit from,  yet we will need to overtake them in terms of league position. At the moment we are below the mid table tier of Championship sides like Batley,  Dewsbury and Whitehaven. Leigh will be very strong and should have the pick of players in a hybrid full/part time squad.

    I remember Neil Kelly coming in when we had assembled a talented but underperforming squad, bringing 3 players with him Agar, Long and Richadson and beating Leigh and Oldham to get us into SL so it can be done!

    #14106
    sandgroper
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    Forward signings are critical for sure. Boss the middle and you are more than halfway there.

    As I read the statement signings have been made but some clubs prefer not to disclose the changes until the season end. That is a perfectly reasonable view to take, though it may be frustrating for Widnes supporters.

    The anxiety and frustration is not helped by only one forward figuring in even the rumoured signings!

    #14108
    Sinbad
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    Yep, it’s going to take a quantum leap from atrocious at the bottom end to competitive the the top end.Not sure it’s do-able inside 6 months.Probably be improvement but not enough to get the north stand full.Hopefully build a platform for further improvement in 2023 and hope the fans stick around

    #14109
    Viking25
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    The latest club accounts have just been published on Companies House, if anybody is interested

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