FORMER Widnes Vikings boss Denis Betts says he leaves the club with sadness.

Betts took over at Halton Stadium when Vikings were still a Championship club and he has steered them through the top flight since their return in 2012.

He has enjoyed mixed fortunes as coach, guiding them to a play-off position in 2014 and taking them to the Challenge Cup semi-finals the same year.

However, Vikings have struggled in the lower reaches of Super League the past two years and they have suffered since the selling of Kevin Brown to Warrington.

Injuries to strike players, especially big signing Krisnan Inu, have not helped but with the club rooted to the foot of the table and plenty of ambitious Championship clubs licking their lips for the Middle 8s, the club have acted.

Betts, who returned to rugby league with Vikings after a spell coaching rugby union at Gloucester, thanked the club for the experience in the statement released by Widnes today.

He said: “I have been grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Widnes Vikings, as Head Coach, for eight years.

"It is with sadness that I leave the club, but I feel proud of what has been achieved during my tenure, and of the contributions of our players and back-office staff.

"I would like to thank everyone who I have worked alongside during my tenure at the club, and all who have supported the Vikings both on and off the field.

"The club has many reasons to be positive for the future, not least the ongoing emergence of its young talent, and I give my best wishes to those who continue to lead the team in the future.

"I hope that the club continues to progress in the seasons ahead.

"I am looking forward to my next chapter in the game and I am grateful for the considerable experience that I have gained with Widnes Vikings.”