Durham relegated to Division Two after financial issues as Hampshire are reinstated

Graham Onions and Paul Collingwood
Durham won the County Championship as recently as 2013

Durham have been relegated from Division One of the County Championship over financial issues, with Hampshire being reinstated.

The North East county have also lost the right to stage Test cricket at their Riverside ground.

Durham have accepted a £3.8m financial aid package, which has been approved by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

They will start next season in Division Two with a 48-point deduction.

Durham will also face a four-point penalty in the 2017 T20 Blast and a two-point deduction in the One-Day Cup.

Additionally, the club will be subject to a revised salary cap from April 2017-2020, with the level determined annually by the ECB board.

Durham's Riverside ground at Chester-le-Street
Durham's home is the most northerly Test venue in the world

All prize money from ECB competitions, except for player awards, will be withheld until the club's debt to the national governing body is cleared.

Why have Durham been docked points?

The steep penalty has been accepted by the club after they accepted help from the ECB in managing current and historic debts.

"The financial package and associated conditions approved by the ECB board reflect the unprecedented seriousness of Durham County Cricket Club's financial situation," said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.

"To help them through these difficulties and continue as a first-class county, this had to be addressed with immediate, practical financial assistance."

Why did Durham need the bailout?

In August, chief executive David Harker called a meeting of the players to reassure them that the club was not going bust and all contracts would be honoured following rumours about their financial situation.

Talks followed, however, with the ECB, who said they wanted "to ensure a successful and sustainable future" for the club.

All-rounder Scott Borthwick and opening batsman Mark Stoneman are both moving to Surrey for 2017, which will alleviate some of the salary pressure on the club.

And the unprecedented bailout will allow Durham to continue to pay their players' salaries, meet the costs owed to Revenue and Customs and operating bills and settle "a substantial debt to a secured creditor", who has not been named.

Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick
Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick are leaving Durham after scoring a combined total of almost 15,000 first-class runs

David Harker, DCCC Group chief executive said: "We are clearly disappointed at the position we are in and the sanctions we have accepted, particularly for the players and staff who have worked so hard to keep us in the First Division.

"It is important that the club addresses its serious financial challenges and puts the business on a sustainable footing and therefore we have had to accept the conditions offered by ECB.

"Other counties have faced serious financial challenges but have been able to find other solutions including private investors without this reliance on ECB."

The Professional Cricketers' Association, meanwhile, is to meet the Durham players to discuss the situation.

"I have emailed all Durham players today to assure them that they can call myself or other PCA staff should they need advice or support during this uncertain period," said chief executive David Leatherdale.

Reaction to ECB decision

Durham captain Paul Collingwood, who came through the academy ranks at Chester-le-Street, said on Twitter that he was angry his side had been relegated.

The 40-year-old former England all-rounder signed a one-year contract extension in July through to the end of 2017 to commit to his 22nd summer of county cricket with the club.

"Yes I'm angry, yes I'm devastated along with all the other players at this great club but far better being in Division 2 than none at all," Collingwood tweeted.external-link

Paul Collingwood on Twitter

Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove said he felt sympathetic towards Durham's plight although happy at his club's reprieve.

"It's been a very difficult time in county cricket, especially if you have one of these big grounds to maintain," Bransgrove told BBC Radio Solent.

"We had some tough times in 2011, 2012 and we understand exactly what they've been living with for a long period of time.

"It's very mixed emotions, but I'm obviously pleased now that it's sunk in, because I do feel that in many respects we deserved another go.

"We had extraordinary injury problems during this summer so we didn't really have a chance to show ourselves as we really can be."

Division Two runners-up Kent had previously argued they should be promoted instead of Hampshire retaining their top-flight place.

"We were not asked to make a formal representation by the ECB as the case was solely concerning Durham's debts etc," a club spokesperson told BBC Radio Kent.

"We're disappointed that the special circumstances of one up, two down being introduced weeks before the season were not considered."


BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew

"Durham's is a sad and salutary tale. Ambition and enviable cricketing infrastructure, that produced eight Test players, but also over-ambition in that the county had its head turned by the foolish central policy of encouraging all to stage Test cricket.

"By overextending financially to fulfil their dream, this was the undoing of Durham, who have now lost the right to host Tests.

"The rescue package comes to £3.8m and they will resume in the second division, having won the County Championship three times in six years.

"While this has been a lesson to other counties similarly tempted to enter the big time, it should also discourage the ECB from encouraging counties to take such a gamble."

From new boys to champions

Ian Botham
Ian Botham scored 705 runs and took 24 wickets in Durham's inaugural Championship campaign

Durham are the youngest first-class county, having entered the County Championship for the first time in 1992.

Former England all-rounder Ian Botham played for the club in their inaugural season and part of the next, and Dean Jones, David Boon and Shivnarine Chanderpaul are among the overseas players to have appeared at the Riverside.

Chester-le-Street first hosted international cricket in 1999, when Scotland played Pakistan in a one-day international and in all, six Tests, 16 one-dayers and three T20 internationals have been staged at the ground.

Durham had to wait until 2007 to win their first trophy, but then won the Championship three times between 2008 and 2013, before lifting the One-Day Cup in 2014.

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