Widnes still uncertain over next season

Widnes coach Kieron Purtill says the uncertainty over whether the club will be full-time or part-time in 2020 is having an affect on his players.

The Vikings have endured a turbulent season, going in to administration in February which resulted in their game against Sheffield being postponed, and the departure of six players.

Out the door went Krisnan Inu, Wellington Albert and Adam Tangata from the first team, academy stars Sam Walters and Jarrod O’Connor went to Leeds for £30,000, and Liam Hood left shortly after to revert to part-time.

Despite that, Widnes managed to win seven of their first eight games and soon wiped out the 12 point deduction they received, giving hope they might still be able to reach the top five.

But a disappointing run of late, which has seen defeats to Batley, Dewsbury, York and Leigh, has ended their hopes of a play-off place.

Purtill said: “I said when I first came in I didn’t think we had quite enough experience in the team to compete with Toronto and that’s before we lost Hood, Tangata, Inu, Albert.

“When you look at other teams, when you get past Easter everyone is strengthening with dual-registration, loans and signings, every team has done that, whereas over the year we’ve weakened ours.

“Ian Watson came out recently about players at Salford being spoken to by other clubs, and that’s maybe three or four players that they aren’t sure about, whereas we’ve got 80% of our squad in that situation.

“The club can’t give them a definite answer yet, so I’ve got to deal with that.

“Even the guys on contract don’t know where they’re going to be. Myself too, I’ve no contract for next season. I don’t know what’s happening.

“It’s difficult, it is our job, we have to be professional, but it does play on people’s minds. It’s not just the players, it’s their partners and their families, asking can we book a holiday, where are you going to be working next season and that can take its toll.

“It all probably contributes to the mental fatigue, so the sooner the club can sort out which direction it’s going in, then I’m sure all those things will work out.”

Vikings chief executive Phil Finney has previously commented that they are still weighing up the costs involved with being full-time compared to part-time for next season, and whether it will be achievable with the projected season ticket sales, sponsorship and other income the club is forecasting.

A figure of around £1.5m turnover is believed to be required to commit to a full-time operation in the Championship.