Ex-Hull FC chief James Rule returns to rugby league with Widnes Vikings
DISGRACED former Hull FC chief executive James Rule has been appointed to the same role at Widnes Vikings – despite currently serving a suspension imposed by UK Anti-Doping.
Rule was handed a two-year ban last December, back-dated to June, for his part in a cover-up after former Great Britain centre Martin Gleeson tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanaemine.
Rule was barred from any involvement with rugby league players, but the Rugby Football League say they have no objection to his appointment.
A spokesman said: “Widnes Vikings notified the RFL of the appointment and we immediately informed UK Anti-Doping.
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“James Rule was suspended by a national anti-doping panel and under the terms of that suspension, he is not disqualified from fulfilling the role of chief executive.”
Rule, who resigned from his FC role last October, will take over from Julie Gaskell when she leaves the club over the next few weeks after being head-hunted by Widnes executive chairman Steve O’Connor.
“When Steve approached me, I was instantly engaged by the vision that he has for the Widnes Vikings,” he said.
“His innovative approach and passion is infectious and I am very excited by the opportunity that he has presented me. It is an honour to become CEO of a club with such a rich heritage as Widnes.
“The first year following introduction to Super League is tough. I believe that the club, its directors, staff, coaches, players and supporters have achieved a great deal this year and created strong foundations on which to build.
“The focus now is to develop a sustainable business model to facilitate the continued growth of the Widnes Vikings.”
O’Connor insists Rule has been brought to the club for his track record at the KC Stadium, where he helped to gain two grade A licenses.
He said: “I’m delighted to have secured the services of James. He has demonstrated an outstanding ability during his tenure as CEO at Hull FC. Under his leadership, the club secured two successive grade A licences and developed a model for a sustainable sports business.
“I am aware that James has nine months left to serve on a sanction imposed by UKAD.
“James and I have talked at length about this and can confirm that his role as CEO fully respects the criteria stipulated in the sanction and does not conflict with it in any capacity.
“James has strong commercial acumen, his experience will be an important addition to our organisation as he begins the process of assessing our current off field operation and in turn developing the strategies that can create a sustainable business model.
“I look forward to working with James to continue the development of this club.”