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Relegation, Heartbreak and Conspiracy
The Widnes Vikings have not ruled out legal action to ensure they are not relegated from Superleague next season. In an eventful month for the club Widnes officials have doggedly argued that they are not without hope of staying in the top flight, while attempts had been made to prop up a National League One club to improve their chances of a reprieve.
The Viking?s situation is all the more frustrating for supporters and officials due to the fact that they only qualify for relegation because of the inclusion of French club, Les Catalan into the ESL next year. Unsurprisingly Widnes has spoken out against allowing a new club to come in at the expense of the due processes of promotion and relegation.
Interestingly, while Viking?s officials deny any underhand dealings, they kindly provided two players, Gary Hulse and Sala Fa?alogo, to National League 1 (NL1) club Doncaster during the Dragon?s finals campaign. Doncaster who did not pursue a place in ESL for 2006 were bundled in the first week of the NL1 finals. While Widnes officials played a straight bat to suggestions that they were helping Doncaster to improve their chances of remaining in the ESL, Gary Hulse was acutely aware of why he had moved telling Sporting Life ?We want to help Doncaster win the Grand Final and thereby keep Widnes in Superleague. That?s our aim.?
Widnes officials now know their best chance of a relegation reprieve is if Whitehaven win National League 1. The Cumbrian team has topped the table at the end of the season proper, and qualified for the NL1 Grand Final by defeating Castleford 32-22 on the weekend. Whitehaven?s Recreation Ground has required renovations to playing and spectator facilities for some time.
While Whitehaven have been courted by wealthy businessmen looking to buyout shareholders and renovate playing facilities, no significant improvements have taken place to player or spectator facilities this season. Whitehaven proposes to move home fixtures to nearby football stadium Brunton Park for four games in 2006 while a 750,000 pound 1,000 seater stand is built at Recreation Field. The RFL had set a date of August 31st for proposals from NL1 clubs who seek admission to Superleague, and while Whitehaven have not heard from the ruling body, they are hoping for a positive outcome.
Such proposals will be closely analyzed by Widnes officials. Widnes has experienced the rigors of promotion in the past and as Widnes Chairman Tony Chambers told The Guardian if it is suspected Whitehaven is receiving preferential treatment ??we would have to consider very carefully what action we would take?. What is certain is Widnes will not go down without a fight.