Widnes Vikings chief executive on search for new head coach

Widnes Vikings chief executive Phil Finney says the yet-to-be-appointed new coach will join a club that is financially stable, sustainable and has a “phenomenal” fanbase – and will inherit the Vikings’ “most balanced squad for a long time”.

Simon Finnigan left by mutual consent on April 26 – within hours of John Kear departing Championship rivals Bradford – after Widnes suffered a fifth straight league defeat and sixth in all competitions.

That sequence was stretched to seven when the Vikings lost 74-6 at leaders Featherstone a week ago, but Finney says the former Super League club, currently ninth in the second tier, will not be rushed into a decision, and that caretaker coach Ryan O’Brien could still be given the job on a permanent basis.

“Ryan put his head above the parapet and said he was keen to take charge in the interim, knowing he faced a baptism of fire,” Finney told League Express.

“He knows the club well, he aspires to progress his coaching career, and now he has the opportunity to demonstrate his attributes.

“But when a position at a club with the stature of Widnes Vikings comes up, there is inevitably a lot of interest, and we have been inundated with enquiries, from both the UK and overseas.

“We are going through the applicants and I have touched base with a number of them.

“We are also taking external advice on the way we conduct the process and we are open-minded as to the profile of the individual we are looking for.

“Appointing a new coach is always an important decision and even more so now, given potential changes to the structure of the divisions.

“While we clearly want an improvement in results in the short term, we are also looking at the long-term future of the club. It’s a decision we can’t afford to get wrong and we certainly won’t be rushed.”

Finney added: “While it’s been a tough few weeks, I think as a club we are in a good place and it’s an amazing opportunity for the right person.

“We have worked hard and taken some tough decisions, such as disbanding the Academy and going from full- to part-time to get to a position where we are financially stable and sustainable.

“We have good facilities and a phenomenal fanbase. When the majority of players are fit we have the most balanced squad we have had for a long time.”

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