Super League: Matt Beech bullish about Widnes Vikings
Matt Beech is predicting a bright future for the Widnes Vikings following a year of progress on and off the field.
Last Updated: 03/09/13 3:47pm
Head coach Denis Betts has built a team capable of competing with Super League's best on their day despite missing out on the play-offs in 2013.
Sunday's victory over Hull KR was their ninth this season with one match in the campaign left. The club won just six in 2012 following their return to England's top flight.
There is plenty of negativity surrounding the game. Wakefield are currently considering selling players to help service debts while Bradford have allayed fears regarding a winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill.
Widnes, one of the game's greats in the 80s, are a team on the up. Attendances have increased and there is a strong belief among fans they will secure a top-eight finish in 2014.
"I feel quite passionately that business, whether large or small, should invest and share success with the local community. I first spoke to the club about a hospitality box for my company to use to watch the games, those conversations quickly moved to discussions around sponsoring the club and helping to support its development," he explained.
"We actually share a lot of common ground, common values about investing in youth, identifying and developing talent and working with sports in the community to tackle some of the issues that Halton suffers. As well as investing in the Vikings, Maltacourt also financially supports Runcorn Cricket Club, both are doing great work with the youth of both Runcorn and Widnes and that's something that fits with the values of my business.
"I became an investor in the club personally as I can see that it delivers great value for the community, the club has a bright future and I believe that our development since making the leap into Super League demonstrates that.
"Ultimately, I'm a business person and it was important for me that I was investing in a business that would be sustainable and not reliant on the generosity of an owner, I think the Vikings are one of only a few clubs in the Super League that can achieve sustainability in their present form."
Beech was well aware of Widnes' progress growing up, but it has been the past few years where the club has moved closer to his heart.
"Having grown up in Runcorn during the 70's and 80's it was difficult not to have been aware of the Rugby Club in Widnes," he continued.
"I can't confess to have been a 'loyal supporter' at that time but fondly remember going across the bridge to watch the games at Naughton Park and of course those trips down to Wembley. That was a real golden period for the club."