Durham sanctions were 'harsh but appropriate' says ECB chief

ECB chief Tom Harrison says Durham's sanctions were 'harsh but appropriate'.
ECB chief Tom Harrison says Durham's sanctions were 'harsh but appropriate'.
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Sanctions imposed on Durham CCC over their financial bail-out were "harsh but appropriate", according to the England and Wales Cricket Board's chief executive.

County Championship winners as recently as 2013, Durham will play next summer in Division Two and with a 48-point deduction after agreeing a £3.8million package of aid from the ECB to help with outstanding debts.

Further points deductions apply in the limited-overs competitions, while the ECB will also withhold prize money from the club.

ECB chief Tom Harrison told BBC Radio's Test Match Special programme: "The priority was safeguarding the future of professional and recreational cricket in the north-east, and it's a big tick in the box next to that.

"We're now in a position where we have to send a message about precedent, that it's not something that's going to be an attractive solution to counties in that position. It's not the ECB's job to be a lender.

"The playing sanctions are harsh but they're appropriate. Durham could be, in 12 months' time, off and running with no debt, new management and board and released from special conditions.

"It's harsh in terms of penalties on players for next year, but it's a significant deterrent to any counties finding themselves in that situation."

Part of the financial pressure on Durham may have stemmed from bidding for international matches.

Chester-le-Street has staged six England Tests since 2003 but, aside from an Ashes match in 2013, they have been in early summer against the perceived lesser opposition of the English summer.

Visits from the West Indies, twice, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, often in cold weather, have proved difficult to sell out.

The county will be blocked from bidding for Tests as part of the ECB sanctions, though the ground could still host limited-overs internationals.

Harrison said: "The way international matches were allocated was a bidding structure, nobody was forced to bid a certain amount and nobody had to stage Tests.

"You have to understand what your revenue is and what your costs are, and if they get out of whack it ends up hitting the wall at some stage.

"The ECB had to step in to make sure that did not happen in May or June of this year, it absolutely was going to happen if we'd not stepped in."