Sir Ian Botham has been appointed chairman of troubled Durham County Cricket Club. The former England hero and famous all-rounder will take up his new position on February 1st, after he has finished media obligations on England’s tour of India.
Botham spent the 1992-3 season at Durham as a player and was considered a big signing for the club just after it had achieved First Class status for the first time. It is now hoped that Sir Ian can help guide the club out of its current predicament. Mr Botham said,
“I am very privileged to be invited to accept the role of chairman at Durham County Cricket Club, but it is important that we all recognise the size of the task ahead.”
Around two weeks ago, Mr Botham stated that he would be willing to help his former club in any way he was able.
CRICKET | Durham County Cricket Club have announced the appointment of Sir Ian Botham as chairman. pic.twitter.com/pWPcEItKuk
— Betfred (@Betfred) November 3, 2016
Due to severe financial problems, Durham CCC recently had to be rescued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Durham County Council. The ECB offered the club a £3.8 million rescue package and Durham County Council agreed a deal in which the £3.74 million Durham CCC owed it was converted into shares in the club.
The ECB, however, imposed severe penalties on the club, including relegation to Division Two with a 48-point deduction. The club will also not be able to host test matches at its Riverside Stadium though limited-overs internationals will still go ahead.
To compound the club’s problems, two of its top players, Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman, will be moving to Surrey.
But Mr Botham, who lives in the north east, sounded cautiously optimistic about the club’s future. Mr Botham said, “As someone who lives locally, it is an honour to have the opportunity to contribute to the club’s future. We will work closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board and Durham County Council in the months ahead as we develop a plan to ensure continued success for this great club.”
Simon Henig, the leader of Durham County Council, said, “We’re delighted with the appointment of Sir Ian Botham as chairman and would like to wish him the warmest of welcomes to his new position.”
“To have an international cricketing icon taking on such a major role can only be a positive step towards a new, brighter future.”
There has, however, been some criticism of the appointment, with some pointing to Mr Botham’s lack of experience in the administrative side of sport. Durham North MP Kevan Jones has also voiced some concerns over the development. Mr Jones said Sir Ian’s appointment had been common knowledge in the cricketing world even before the ECB’s penalties on Durham were announced. Mr Jones said,
“Is this therefore yet another condition the ECB has placed on the club? Supporters will rightly want to know whether he will be a champion for the club or whether he will simply be a voice of the ECB.”
“Also, with his many commitments, members and supporters will want to know how much time he will be able to commit to his new role at such a critical time for the club.”