Cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham has formally taken up his new role as chairman of Durham County Cricket Club.
Though it was announced that Mr Botham would step into the chairman’s role back in November, Mr Botham has not officially started work till now.
Mr Botham’s main challenge will be to get financially troubled Durham back into the County Championship Division One, following their relegation last year.
Having incurred debts of around £7.5 million, Durham had to be rescued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
In return for an ECB rescue package worth £3.8 million, Durham were forced to accept relegation to the County Championship Division Two, where the club will start the new season with a 48-point deduction.
The deal also means that Durham County Cricket Club cannot hold international test matches at its Riverside Stadium in Chester-le-Street. The club can, however, host limited-overs internationals.
Ian Botham seemed upbeat about the challenges ahead. In a statement yesterday, he said, “I’m delighted to have taken on the role of chairman in what looks to be a very exciting time for the club.”
“I finished my first-class career at Durham and have lived here for thirty years. I am very proud to be part of the north east, a region that needs people playing cricket.”
“The response has been magnificent and everyone has been very supportive.”
“I can’t wait for the season to start and for Durham to return to the top flight where we belong.”
In addition to the rescue package from the ECB, Durham County Cricket Club were helped by Durham County Council. The council was owed £3.74 million by the club, but rather than demanding loan repayments, the council last year agreed to convert this debt into shares in the club.
Ian Botham ended his playing career at Durham, scoring a century in his debut match.