Per the Northumberland Lightning and Newcastle Vikings Facebook pages:
Following discussions, we are pleased to announce that Northumberland Lightning American Football and Newcastle Vikings American Football Team will be merging this off-season into one team, to be known as the “Northumberland Vikings”. The team will play their games at Druid Park, Woolsington and the move will see both sets of players come together for the 2018 season.
The decision was one not taken lightly however all involved felt that it was the best option for both clubs, as well as a positive step forward for American Football in the North East.
Both squads have some exceptional talent available, but struggled with committed players numbers in their recent seasons; Northumberland in particular suffering a poor campaign. The combination of both squads will create a much healthier, competitive core of players for next year and beyond.
Behind the scenes, members of both clubs have been working together closely over the last 12 months on the North East Academy of American Football and this step was a natural progression following a very successful maiden season for our youth team. BAFA have been kept updated throughout the process and have been supportive of the move.
The reaction from within both camps has been positive and the benefits of combining the clubs at senior level, underpinned by the academy, is clear. The merge creates a great opportunity and platform for our players, coaches and club to progress and take the next step, with a new 5 year plan now in place that aims to ultimately see the Vikings reach the Premiership.
Over the coming weeks, supporters of both clubs will see our social media and contact information begin to be updated and more information will be released regarding our off-season plans; such as two big recruitment events we have planned for this coming October.
DC reached out to British American Football Association to query how this will work for the newly-merged Vikings programme moving forwards – would the team assume the Vikings’ berth in Division One, the Lightnings’ in Division Two, or need to start from scratch with a new associate process?
Speaking with BAFA Director of Competitions, Russ Hewitt:
The teams will merge into the Vikings’ Division One status.The Newcastle side of the merger have earned their Division One standing, as shown by narrowly missing out on playoffs the year following their promotion, so for competition structure we believe that is the best place for the new Northumberland Vikings team.