Phil Finney has spoken about his affinity and passion for Widnes Vikings after announcing his departure as chief executive.
Finney has spent over 13 years with his boyhood club in a wide variety of roles, including head of youth performance and culminating in becoming chief executive, after a period in which he helped to steer the Vikings out of administration.
He is now looking to explore new opportunities in his career and says his time at Widnes will always be something that he reflects on with great pride.
Finney explained: “This club means everything to me. Having supported Widnes Vikings as a boy and spent so many years working here, I leave with a heavy heart. However, I feel it is now the right time to explore other career opportunities and aspirations. With a strong playing and coaching team in place for the season ahead, this is the right moment for Widnes to transition to new leadership.
“Working for Widnes Vikings has been an honour and I hope that I have made a positive impact on the club. I joined in 2009, with the remit of setting up an academy that would support the Vikings to achieve their application to join Super League. This went on to become one of the first academies to be rated as ‘outstanding’.
“The legacy from this programme is something that I will always be proud of. With the academy developing 41 first team players, and more than half of them coming from Widnes, it gave young people a platform to find and fulfil their potential. With these players not only representing Widnes Vikings, but also England at youth, academy and Knights levels, and playing for every Super League club, it demonstrated how vital this club and town is to the sport of rugby league.
“Becoming CEO of Widnes Vikings was never in my life plans. I accepted the role after helping the Vikings through the perilous moments of administration, and I was determined to do whatever I could to give the club that I love a better future. The generosity and passion of supporters, who came together so incredibly at this time, was truly inspirational and is something that I will never forget.
“There have been many highs and lows in my time at Widnes, but I have never taken the privilege of working at the club for granted. Having watched the Vikings in cup finals as a boy, going on to lead the team out at the 1895 Cup Final at Wembley brought home to me the force that this club can be for changing lives and realising dreams. This important role that the club can play in creating opportunities for local people has always been my passion and greatest source of pride, working here.
“I leave Widnes Vikings with, I believe, much stronger foundations in place for the future. The club has talented people, both on and off the field, who will continue to lead it to better things.
“My thanks go to every supporter, player and colleague who I have had the pleasure working alongside. I am grateful to everyone who has helped me in my tenure and will miss many people. I must also thank my family, who have supported me in what can be a demanding role, for their love, understanding and encouragement.
“I leave with many happy memories and the hope that Widnes Vikings will continue to be a real source of inspiration and opportunity to the town in its future.”