WIDNES Vikings' descent into administration ­— with the threat of liquidation ­— has illustrated the good, the bad and the ugly sides to rugby league.

The way the supporters, players past and present, and the community have rallied around in a bid to save their club is genuinely heartwarming after the initial bombshell was dropped.

Staff, who have not been paid, have worked tirelessly over the weekend and evenings to try and rescue the club.

Past players have come forward to sell off jerseys - and little girls have sold their toys and teddies - all in a bid to save the club.

And all this money is ring-fenced, so won't go into the financial black hole if the worst happens.

Less good is the way this proud club - in a town that has produced some of the all time greats - has been crashed upon the rocks after relegation. The whole situation is a mess.

When Peter O’Hara, from the administrators, explained the “rudderless ship” was in this state because it had spent more than it earned I was half expecting him to quote Mr Micawber, from Dickens’ David Copperfield.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen, nineteen, and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.”

And we currently have misery - even if that has been heavily disguised by the whirlwind of activity and out-pouring of affection.

Their battle for survival this week has been admirable despite the advice coming from the sidelines from those who watched the Bradford Bulls saga to just let it go pop (along with all the debts) and start again.

Obviously major questions will have to be asked when the dust settles.

But going forward do we also need to pose those, not merely of the Vikings management, but of the game’s structure?

Is it now feasible that relatively smaller clubs like Widnes, who dared to dream, but like Icarus have flown too close to the sun, can really compete with Sugar Daddy-backed teams splashing the big bucks at the top end of Super League?

Do some clubs really now have to accept their level in the game? That is an awful choice. We all want our teams to be up there; at Wembley and Old Trafford.

But it will become increasingly tougher as top clubs exploit every means possible to spend as much as they can, marquee players and rugby union signings, those on significantly lesser incomes will have to perform miracles to genuinely compete for silverware again in the future.

But that does not mean chuck in the towel.

In places like Widnes, and for that matter Halifax, Leigh and Featherstone, there is a proud tradition and the rugby league club does help in some ways preserve the identity of that particular town.

And you can see that in the way that folk have rallied - to young Vikings and old Chemics - the club is still so important.

Widnes is a rugby town - and still is despite the new-build estates on the green belt fringes that have largely pulled in people from the football-mad suburbs of Liverpool.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

For a small town it has produced some of the all time greats in rugby league Vince Karalius, Alan Prescott, Frank Myler and Tommy McCue - all real legends of the game even if not all went on to play for their hometown team.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

And as a town, certainly since the 70s, far more internationals have come out of Widnes than their Cheshire neighbours a few miles further up the Mersey, like Keith Elwell and Mick Adams pictured above.

Widnes do not just have a history, but the patient work done in rebuilding the youth set up meant that they should have a future.

It would be a crying shame if all that toil was allowed to go to waste.

But is this where we, as a game, have to take stock?

Widnes are not the first team to have the begging bowls out and, surveying the landscape, they probably won't be the last.

Promotion and relegation was supposed to make it fair - give all a chance to climb as high as they can.

But when it all comes crashing down as badly as this, it leaves the staff and players of those clubs picking up the pieces.

If the worst happens - and we keep out fingers crossed for good news by the morning - it is years of work shattered, it leaves the hopes and dreams of young players hanging by a thread and deprives supporters of something that is in their blood.

A recognition that this system probably won't work is not an argument that says simply hive off the top 12 and give them all the television money to really build the game to help preserve Super League in the face of fierce competition from the NRL and rugby union for players, and other sports for sponsorship, supporters and media coverage.

Of course the flower needs to bloom, but lets also take care of the roots and that cannot be done if they simply create feeder clubs to the current top dogs. (even if the dual reg system pulls the game towards that by the year.)

But do we now need to go back to licensing and allow clubs to find a natural level in a credible, self-sufficient Championship competition?

And if those clubs build back up, attract backers, fans, sponsors and continue to produce players through their junior set ups, then they could apply again for a licence and replace those who have not pulled their weight on and off the field in the top flight.