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A statement from the Board of Directors and fund raising efforts

"FOLLOWING the last minute collapse earlier this week of the proposed consortium that had been set to take ownership of Widnes Vikings and provide the necessary financial investment into the club, the Board of Widnes Vikings has been seeking specialist legal advice. The Board has been advised that there is no realistic option available to the club, other than to appoint an Administrator as a priority to help secure the long term future of Widnes Vikings. It can, therefore, be confirmed that Peter O'Hara and Chris Brooksbank of O'Haras will be appointed today. The board wishes to convey their sadness and disappointment at this course of action, but having made extensive efforts in recent months to find investment opportunities, we have been unable to avoid this situation. The administrators have extensive experience in supporting businesses with the same challenges faced by Widnes Vikings and have a strong understanding of Rugby League. We believe that they are the right appointment for the club and sincerely wish them success in their endeavors. We wish the very best for Widnes Vikings, its players, staff, supporters, and partners, and hope that this matter can be positively resolved soon for all parties. Regrettably, members of the Board have received sinister threats, as well as threats to their property and families. These threats will not be tolerated and have been passed on to the Police for review."  Board of Directors, Widnes Vikings.

VIQI, an independent fundraising organisation that has supported Widnes Vikings for almost 20 years has stepped forward to help coordinate fundraising efforts to save the club. Supporters can donate and sign up to become members of the association at:- VIQI.Co.UK.

As an independent organisation with its own bank account, all money donated is securely ring fenced, by VIQI, and will not be put at risk by the club’s current administration challenges. Money donated will be used to help take the club out of administration, if possible, or to support the continuation of professional rugby league in our town.

Supporters can continue to donate through the crowd funder which had been set up by supporter Bethany Pennington. With every day counting, supporters are encouraged to donate as soon as possible and to give as generously as possible.

Vikings Supporters are encouraged to sign up become a VIQI Member. This can help provide sustainable and reliable income to support Widnes Vikings. This will help VIQI to demonstrate to potential investors that Widnes Vikings can become a sustainable club, which has the full backing of its supporters.

If VIQI can generate 1000 to 1500 members, contributing ₤15 per month, they will collectively generate between ₤180,000 to £270,000 per year for the club. This would help attract further investment and see Widnes Vikings’ supporters likely become the primary investors in their team.

Throughout Widnes Vikings’ Championship and Super League history, VIQI members have collectively raised almost ₤200,000 for the club, helping to sign almost 40 1st team players and invest in the club’s youth system. From our first signing, Martin Crompton, through to the likes of Corey Thompson, VIQI have consistently supported the progress of Widnes Vikings and assisted the club at times of need.

Jason Shaw, Founder of VIQI, says:- "At this time of financial uncertainty for the club, we would like to step forward to help lead and protect the fundraising efforts to save Widnes Vikings. Whilst all of us are hurting by the current crisis, the only thing that matters now is action. A united effort from our supporters and backers of the club can help save our historic team. We encourage supporters and members of the rugby league community to donate to the crowd funder as generously as possible. We also hope that our supporters will sign up to become VIQI members to demonstrate to potential investors that the club has the support of its community and ongoing revenue. Securing a thousand or more members by Wednesday, 27 February 2019, at 15 a month is essential in demonstrating the local passion for the club and its sustainability. Supporters are encouraged to share the VIQI.Co.UK's website as far and wide as possible. As an independent organisation, with a long heritage of supporting Widnes Vikings in times of need, we hope that we can be a trusted partner for supporters. With our own bank account, we will safeguard the money raised and ensure that it is used appropriately to assist the long term future of this club. Our immediate priority is to help generate enough funds to make a meaningful contribution to ensure that Widnes Vikings can overcome the threat of liquidation. Ultimately, we hope that VIQI can work to help establish an active Supporters Trust, with the aim of taking an ownership stake in the club. With representatives from across our supporter base working together, we hope that this will create a more sustainable and transparent club, that we all have a stake in. Given the need to generate funding immediately, this plan will naturally be developed at a later stage."

Metro Mayor hails improved facilities as Newton-le-Willows Interchange scheme officially opens

LIVERPOOL City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, has restated the Combined Authority's commitment to improving the City Region's transport infrastructure as he officially opened new and improved facilities at the Newton-le-Willows Station interchange onFriday, 22 February 2019.  The revamped Station forms part of the birthplace of modern railway, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway line, which opened in 1830. At the official ceremony, the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor unveiled a commemorative plaque alongside St Helens North MP Conor McGinn and other representatives from the key partners involved in developing the scheme.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:- "Transport is a hugely important of our lives, which is why we are working hard to improve links across the City Region, whether by investing in our key routes, commissioning a brand new ₤460 million project to deliver a fleet of new state of the art trains for the Merseyrail network, or, as in Newton-le-Willows, modernising and improving our Stations. These facilities will make a huge difference to local people's traveling experience every day and I'm proud to officially open them to the public."

The Newton-le-Willows Interchange scheme, an ₤18.95m investment funded by the Local Growth Fund and Merseytravel, opened to the public in January 2019.  ₤14.4m of the investment comes from the Local Growth Fund (LGF). LGF funding is awarded to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and invested through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority's Strategic Investment Fund. The rail elements of the scheme were delivered by Network Rail with contractor Galliford Try on behalf of Merseytravel. The bus interchange and car park elements were delivered by North Midland Construction.

The scheme has seen a new Main Station Entrance and Ticket Office established on the south side of the tracks on Alfred Street and other improvements, including:-

Step free access to and between the platforms via new subway and lifts.

Bus interchange adjacent to the new Ticket Office.

New 400 space car park (expanding from the existing 100 spaces)

Dedicated drop off and pick up area.

Improved passenger waiting facilities.

New toilet facilities.

Additional cycle parking.

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry MP, said:- "This Government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and building an economy which is fit for our shared future. Newton le Willows Station is an important gateway to Cities and Towns across the Northern Powerhouse and passengers are already enjoying the benefits of this major redevelopment, made possible with a ₤14 million investment from the Local Growth Fund. This official opening is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work of all those involved and is another milestone as we improve transport connections for people in the Liverpool City Region and beyond."

Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, said:- "Newton-le-Willows is at the heart of the North West and the gateway between the Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester. The redeveloped Rail Station, the new routes that have been introduced and plans for increased capacity confirm the Town's status as a key transport hub serving a wide area and large population. As well as providing much improved facilities for existing passengers, the significant investment in the Station is part of a wider aim to ensure better connectivity brings jobs and growth to St Helens borough. I was delighted to join my colleague Mayor Steve Rotherham in opening Newton-le-Willows Station, and am grateful the many partners involved in bringing this ambitious and impressive project to fruition."

Cllr Liam Robinson, Transport Portfolio holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said:- "The new and improved facilities at Newton-le-Willows Station are a significant investment, by the Combined Authority and our funding partners to improve public transport facilities in the City Region. This transport hub links local transport through bus and rail with strategic rail links across the country and is a prime example of our Long Term Rail Strategy being put into practice. We're really pleased to see how well used it already is and the positive feedback we've received so far."

Martin Frobisher, managing director for Network Rail's London North Western route, said:- "Newton le Willows Station has been transformed into the fitting transport hub that passengers deserve. It's great to be here today to see passengers enjoying the Station's new and improved facilities. Working with our colleagues at Merseytravel, this is another great example of the Great North Rail Project in action. We continue to work together to prepare platforms on the Merseyrail network for the arrival of brand new trains next year. It's fantastic to continue working with our partners at Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region, to transform train travel within the City Region and beyond."

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said:- "It's fantastic to see these new facilities for our customers in Newton-le-Willows, which go hand in hand with our own improvements across the Northern network. The Station and surrounding area have been completely transformed and it's been great to see our customers using the outstanding facilities. The rail industry has worked together to deliver the improvements at Newton-le-Willows, and the Station is a great example of the investment being made across the north of England to improve customers' journey experience."

St Helens Council Leader Derek Long said:- "It's wonderful to see the end result of an impressive piece of engineering which is such a stunning new asset for our borough. Newton-le-Willows railway Station is a fine example of the success that can be achieved through partnership working, and this new look Station will allow local residents and commuters alike to enjoy a modern facility with stronger connectivity, as we look to further capitalize on our strategic rail and road network to attract growth and investment into our borough."

Sean Blackmore, Galliford Try Rail Sector Director, said:- "Local people have been very complimentary to us about the finished Station and we've been grateful to them for their patients. The historical significance of the Station and the challenge of building the new subway has made this project particularly interesting."

The scheme is a key project in Merseytravel's Long Term Rail Strategy and the Growth Deal for the Liverpool City Region, as well as the St Helens Local Development Framework. It forms part of the Great North Rail Project, including the wider ₤340m investment by the Liverpool City Region and Network Rail in rail improvements until 2019.

The improvements to the Station, currently managed by train operator Northern, aim to help create a strategic transport hub, linking up to the local transport network with strategic rail links across the country, building on the electrification works that have already taken place on the Liverpool to Manchester line and the new services that are calling at the Station. It will also help support the future development of the nearby former Parkside Colliery site.

More details on the scheme can be found on the Merseytravel's website.

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