WIDNES Vikings could stand to win an extra £1.3m income over the next two years from a major TV sponsorship deal if the club's bid for Super League status gets the green light.
Fans are waiting with bated breath for the final decision of an independent panel which has been scrutinising the club's credentials for a move into the rugby league elite.
Vikings chairman Tony Chambers was upbeat about the club's promotion prospects following its win over Oldham at Rochdale on Saturday, which saw the team scoop the Northern Ford Premiership Rosebowl Trophy, which is being proudly displayed at the Auto Quest Stadium.
Mr Chambers told the Weekly News big changes would be afoot if all goes to plan, including the development of a fully professional Vikings side and an increase in gate prices comparable to some of the country's other clubs.
He said he has been invited to a meeting of the independent panel on August 7 which will provide a clearer indication of what the future holds.
He said: 'Providing we get promoted to the Super League, we will get for the first year an estimated £650,000 extra funding from the News Corporation/Sky deal and an extra £650,000 in the following year, effectively a total of £1.3m over two years.
'We will be playing against the likes of St Helens, Leeds and Bradford and we will need to field a stronger team of full-time professionals.
'We won the Northern Ford premiership Rose Bowl Trophy, which will be on display at the Auto Quest Stadium and £50,000 in prize money.
'The wage bill will change dramatically. It is likely to go up four-fold and administration of the club will need to change to take account of the full-time players.
'Hopefully, we will be playing in the Super League when the new season starts in March.
'An independent panel will look at the credentials of the club and establish it has adequate facilities.
'They will be carrying out a survey of the Auto Quest and we don't expect there will be any problems
'You need to have a certain number of seats - in excess of 10,000 - and the right facilities. But I don't think anything will need to be done to the stadium.
'You have to show that you can draw a crowd. We are pulling an average crowd of 3,750 for league games. We can compete with other Super League teams.
'Wigan is pulling an average crowd of 7-8,000, while clubs like the London Broncos are pulling an average of about 3,000.
'We must show we have the finances to be capable of Super League status and we have set out a five-year plan which has been submitted to the RL board.
He added: 'Saturday's crowd was superb. I think the Widnes fans outnumbered the Oldham fans, representing about two-thirds of the crowd. The Widnes fans gave us a lot of support.
'We are looking forward to taking our place in the top flight. It won't be easy to start with but I hope our fans will stick with us.'