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Cheshire millionaire buys Widnes

1 November 07 21:04 GMT

Cash-strapped Widnes Vikings have been sold to a Cheshire businessman.

Rail freight millionaire and Liverpool fan Steve O'Connor, 42, has purchased Widnes' assets in a partnership deal with the local council.

O'Connor, who has paid a "five-figure" sum for the Widnes Vikings brand, has pledged an initial £250,000 to keep the club afloat and stem the player exodus.

"Widnes is a fantastic institution which should be competing at the very highest level," said O'Connor.

The club, who were beaten in last season's National League One Grand Final, went into administration last month.

Since then Widnes has been run by administrator Jonathan Avery-Gee.

O'Connor recently sold his shares in his Widnes-based rail freight and logistics company, O'Connor Group, to Stobart Group in a multi-million pound deal.

"My goal is to use my wealth and expertise to help put strong foundations in place where Widnes Vikings can flourish and take their rightful place in the Super League elite where they belong," said O'Connor.

"We were very impressed with the proposal submitted by Steve O'Connor," said Tony McDermott, leader of Halton Council, which owns the Vikings' 13,350-capacity Halton Stadium.

"His proposal offers a substantial cash injection and impressive long-term vision," added McDermott.

Widnes' collapse sparked a takeover battle between a number of consortiums led by various club directors.

Earlier on Thursday former director Jim Quinn pulled out of the race to take control of the club following a meeting with Halton Council on Wednesday.

Another former director, Lol Ogburn, had been interested in buying the club. The club, who were beaten in last season's National League One Grand Final, went into administration last month.

Widnes face starting the new season with a six-point penalty for breaking Rugby Football League rules.

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