Widnes’ long-serving CEO James Rule has officially left the club but warned there are significant challenges to be faced. Rule, who endured a troubled relationship with the club’s fanbase, announced several months ago that he would depart before the new season started, and now, on the eve of the season he has confirmed his official exit.
He has also, however, expressed concern for the club’s short-term future, claiming that no formal offers for it have yet been received.
“Throughout this period, my complete focus has been on securing a transition of ownership,” he said, “bringing external investment into Widnes Vikings that will secure the immediate and longer-term future of the club.
“To facilitate this transfer, the five shareholders of Widnes Vikings collectively agreed to relinquish their shareholding for no financial gain. The Board of Directors have also written off all previous loans in their entirety, that they made to support the club throughout their ownership, totalling £377,000.
“Whilst we have been actively seeking investment from a range of individuals and consortia, there have unfortunately been no formal offers to take on the ownership of the club to date.
“Whilst Widnes Vikings, with investment, can be a viable, thriving and successful club in the long-term, in the short-term, without investment, it is facing significant challenges. The impact of relegation and the associated reduction in a number of revenue streams has placed extreme pressure on our cash flow.
“There are still discussions to be concluded with external parties and the Board of Widnes Vikings are hopeful that these will reach a positive conclusion. Further updates will be provided in the coming days.
“It goes without saying that the ongoing backing of our Members and supporters, who have always been the lifeblood of the club, is absolutely vital at this time. I would encourage the local community to attend this Sunday’s fixture against Halifax and to continue to provide their support.
“Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank every Member, supporter, sponsor, player, coach, staff member and volunteer for their invaluable contribution to Widnes Vikings. I wish everyone the very best of luck for the future.”