Durham relegated, lose Tests due to financial struggles


English county side Durham have been heavily sanctioned and will no longer be eligible to host Test matches as part of an agreement that will see them receive substantial financial assistance from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

An ECB statement on Monday confirmed a £3.8million "financial aid package" had been approved by its board and accepted by Durham, enabling the club to address well-documented money issues.

However, as part of the arrangement, Durham have been relegated to Division Two of the County Championship and will start the 2017 season with a 48-point penalty.

In addition, the club have been docked four and two points respectively in the T20 Blast and One-Day Cup competitions, while they will also no longer be eligible to host Tests at Chester-le-Street. Durham can still stage Twenty20 and one-day internationals.

As a result of Durham's championship relegation, Hampshire have been spared demotion from the top flight.

ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said in a statement: "The financial package and associated conditions approved by the ECB board reflect the unprecedented seriousness of Durham County Cricket Club's financial situation. To help them through these difficulties and continue as a first-class county, this had to be addressed with immediate, practical financial assistance.

"We also have a wider responsibility to the whole game and need strong deterrents in place to preserve the game's integrity and financial stability.

"Durham have made a strong contribution to the game as a first-class county, through domestic competitions, local participation and producing fine England players. We now look forward to working productively with the new board of directors in the restructured company and supporting a healthy future for Durham County Cricket Club and the game in the north east."

A short statement from a Durham spokesperson welcomed the ECB's "long-term commitment to safeguarding first-class cricket in the north east", but former England captain Michael Vaughan questioned the severity of the club's punishment.

Vaughan tweeted: "Fines I get ... Points deduction I get ... Relegation I also get ... But I don't get the removal of Test ground status ????? Why ?? It's the kids of the North east I worry about .. Not being able to see a Test match Live on there [sic] door step."