Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Northumberland in Sir Beefy's Sights as Durham Look to Spread Appeal; Cricket Club Looking to Strengthen Their Links

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Northumberland in Sir Beefy's Sights as Durham Look to Spread Appeal; Cricket Club Looking to Strengthen Their Links

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER Sports writer stuart.rayner@trinitymirror.com @sturayner

RELAUNCHED Durham County Cricket Club will be doing their best to strengthen bonds with the North East public in 2017 and new chairman Sir Ian Botham is targeting closer links with Northumberland as part of that process.

Once rival minor counties, the two have worked together since Durham joined the first-class ranks in 1992.

Ashington-born England internationals Stephen Harmison and Mark Wood are two of the most famous products of the Riversiders' academy and director of cricket Geoff Cook works very closely with Northumberland, who often help to blood Durham youngsters.

Having had debts of PS7.5m cleared by the England and Wales Cricket Board and Durham County Council, Botham's job is to ensure they do not return to the position which almost saw them go out of business.

He wants to make use of his county's huge catchment area which also takes in Cumbria and Scotland to do that.

Botham said: "I want to work to make the whole club a lot more accessible to families and communities.

"We have a lot of resources around here. Northumberland has produced many fine cricketers over the years and Durham's record is there for all to see."

The county council converted PS3.74m owed to them by the club into shares in the restructured company.

To justify that, they will need to ensure it becomes even more deeply embedded in its community.

"We would like to maximise community involve-m e n t ," said council leader Simon Henig. "There is already a lot of enthusiasm for club cricket and sport in general in the region and that has to be harnessed to give us the best chance of moving the club to where it needs to be.

"It is never purely about the finances."

Durham will make their third visit to Newcastle's South Northumberland ground in four years for May's 50-over game against Leicestershire.

"We don't make a lot of money by going to South North or other grounds but when you have a facility like this which people look to as the home venue it makes sense to use it," argued chief executive David Harker.

"Clearly there is a big corporate market in Newcastle and we enjoy a close relationship with Northumberland so we want to be seen to be active in and speak to that community as well. …

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