14 March 2013, 13:26
Durham County Cricket Club has asked for financial backing to ensure it can bring in more high-profile international matches, like the Ashes Test in August.
Durham County Council has agreed in principle to a £2.8 million support package, and the club is also seeking funds from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
After a meeting on Wednesday night, held in private because of commercial sensitivities, Simon Henig, the Labour leader of Durham County Council, said hosting international matches brought "huge economic benefits'' to the area.
"This summer the club will make history by hosting the Australians in what will be the first Ashes Test match to be played in the North East. This will be followed by a T20 match against the same nation.
Next year there are already additional high-profile fixtures which will also bring in many millions to the economy and offer us a unique opportunity to showcase this region on a global scale. These chances to bring in further international sporting and cultural opportunities are vital to boost economic growth.
The club is a significant local employer providing jobs for more than 100 people and has a very strong community sport programme for local young people.''
A spokesperson at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said:
"The ECB is delighted that Durham County Cricket Club is working together with its local stakeholders to produce a sustainable, long term business model.
The engagement of local stakeholders is essential to the well-being of any First Class County, as has been proven elsewhere in the country over recent years.
The ECB looks forward to the first ever Investec Ashes Test Match in the North East taking place at the Emirates Durham ICG in August."
Clive Leach, chairman of Durham County Cricket Club, said that the funding represented an important investment in the next stage of the club's development, allowing it to secure a programme of international cricket and as a result, will create a sustainable business model for the club.
The Chester-le-Street business will receive £2.8m from Durham County Council as part of a business plan to secure additional investment from the ECB.
Mr Leach said:
"Durham County Cricket Club is a real asset to the region, and one that - with an ongoing programme of international cricket - is expected to generate more than £60m of wealth to the North East between now and the end of 2016.
For a number of years, the club has been investing and investing, building and building.
This has been essential and has allowed us to secure international cricket at Durham, culminating in last year's announcement that we will be holding an Ashes Test Match here this summer.
This really was a massive achievement. Our work has also played a significant part in us winning two championships and attracting the stadium?s Emirates sponsorship, which was a huge deal for us.
However, we need to demonstrate local stakeholder support to ensure we have the wherewithal to build upon the work we have undertaken already, make international cricket a permanent fixture here in Durham and leverage that status to bring investment into the club.
We believe that, with the financial support we have been afforded, we can do just that and, as a result, develop DCCC into a profitable, community focused business and realise the benefits of the 'long game' we have been playing."
An independent impact report has shown that the cricket club will contribute almost £20m to the local economy this year, and a further £40m over the next three years.