Widnes announce initial 2010 squad

Widnes Vikings have provisionally announced the make-up of their 2010 squad, although they do have plans to recruit more players.

The Vikings have recruited Warrington’s Steve Pickersgill and James Ford from Castleford Tigers whilst also promoting two academy players, but the club are still looking to make use of the RFL’s dual registration scheme which enables players to play for both Super League and National League clubs.

Sporting Director Terry O’Connor said: “The 2010 squad sees new additions in Steve Pickersgill, who made a big impression during his loan spell in 2009 and James Ford who will give us some more firepower in the three-quarters.

“We are currently in discussions with a number of Super League clubs as part of the RFL’s dual registration policy as well as talking to other players with a view to them joining us on a permanent basis.

“We are also keen to develop our own players and I’m delighted that Dave Houghton and Dean Thompson have made sufficient progress to gain promotion to the first team squad. There is certainly more talent in the Reserve and Academy squads and I’m sure others will get their opportunities in 2010.”

The Vikings have also released eight players including winger Gavin Dodd, prop Richard Fletcher and goal-kicking back Tim Hartley due to salary cap restraints.

“A number of players are leaving the Club and on behalf of the coaching staff I’d like to thank Gavin Dodd, John Duffy, Richard Fletcher, Tim Hartley, Michael Ostick and Brett Robinson for their contributions this season. John and Richard will still be at the Club until the end of November when their community commitments cease,” continued O’Connor.

“We have also released Danny Mills and Lee Paterson from their contracts and, again, thank them for their efforts and wish them well for the future.

“I know some of the players leaving would prefer to stay and we would like to keep them but with the reduction in the salary cap to £300,000 we have to spend accordingly.”

There is scope to spend more but O’Connor admits that this depends on circumstances relating to the club’s revenue.

“There is the option to spend up to £400,000 but we need to be sure that our revenue breaks the £1m barrier in order to do so. Increases in season ticket sales, gate receipts, sponsorship and Dream Ticket sales would let us take advantage of this facility.”

Widnes have also announced that their season tickets are selling well above expectations. The club have already sold 1,600 to fans and look to exceed their 2008 sales figures of 2,400.

Chief Exectuve Alex Bonney added: “We have yet to analyse the number of new purchasers for 2010, but during September we were aware of fans buying season tickets who hadn’t done so for the 2009 season.

“In fact we have now sold over 75% of our total for 2009 and with the season not due to kick off for another four months it will be great if we can build on the 2,400 we sold in the 2008 season, the first year Steve O’Connor took over the running of the Club.”

Widnes 2010 squad: Lee Doran, Paddy Flynn, James Ford, Jim Gannon, Dean Gaskell, Shane Grady, Dave Houghton, Ben Kavanagh, Toa Kohe Love, Iain Morrison, Anthony Mullally, Steve Pickersgill, Josh Simm, Mark Smith, Matt Strong, Anthony Thackeray, Dean Thompson, Richard Varkulis, James Webster  and Scott Yates.

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