WIDNES VIKINGS have denied rumours of financial problems, while pledging to build a more competitive squad for next season.
The former Super League club went into their home clash with Oldham on Sunday fourth-bottom of the Championship and on the back of a 64-6 loss at Whitehaven.
Coach Simon Finnigan had named only three substitutes for the trip to West Cumbria as his side slipped to an eleventh defeat in 18 league games this year, with the Vikings apologising to their travelling fans.
With the rumour mill in full swing, Widnes say that was down to an unusually high number of unavailable players, many of them senior squad members.
“Twelve of the original 26-man squad put together for the 2021 season were unavailable, along with our recent signing (from Halton Farnworth Hornets) Lewis Hulme,” the club said in a statement.
“Not all of those absences were injury-related, with long-Covid, work commitments, concussion protocols and player departures all playing a part.
“We understand supporters will have been worried to see only 16 players named, however the sheer number of unavailable players made this unavoidable.”
Widnes went into administration in the wake of relegation from Super League in 2018, but the statement added: “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.”
The Vikings have already announced the signings of versatile back Matty Fleming from Dewsbury Rams and their former loose-forward Sam Wilde from Newcastle Thunder for next season.
They are also being linked with London Broncos halfback or hooker Matty Fozard, Workington Town winger Brad Holroyd and Sheffield Eagles forward Aaron Brown as well as two Oldham players, winger Ryan Ince, another old boy, and prop Tyler Dupree.
A number of contract extensions have also been announced, the latest a two-year agreement with second rower Adam Lawton.
“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,” the statement continued.
“As early as March, work was 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.
“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.
“We have already learnt from those mistakes, and are actioning our plan to ensure we are in a stronger position going into next season.”
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