Sunderland legend Kevin Ball helped launch a new fan campaign aimed at helping fight the “draconian” measures handed out to Durham County Cricket Club.
Durham were relegated to Division Two, starting the new season with a 48-point deduction, after agreeing a £3.8million package of aid from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to help with outstanding debts.
But as part of the bail-out, Durham also had other severe sanctions imposed on them including a revised salary cap, removal of the ground’s Test match status plus stiff penalties in both of cricket’s cup competitions.
Now four Durham supporters - led by veteran and ex-Durham President Tom Moffat - have launched an online appeal to raise funds for the cricket club and to send a strong message to officials at the ECB.
And Sunderland legend Ball, a big cricket fan, was more than happy to lend his support.
Moffat said: “We believe the punishments handed out were draconian to say the least and grossly unfair. They are probably the harshest ever imposed on a sporting body.
“The purpose of launching a website is two-fold. Firstly, it gives cricket enthusiasts throughout the Country the opportunity to show their anger at the ECB and at the same time make a donation to the fund, which will be used exclusively to pay off the debt owed to the ECB.
“We want to show the powers that be that Durham members – and indeed followers of the game throughout the Country - are not taking this lying down.
“It’s encouraging that Durham’s membership has increased this season for the first time in eight years. People who support other Counties have either joined the club or given a donation.
“It shows that supporters of the game from outside the North East are as angry as we are at what the ECB has done.
“Every hit on the website – every pound raised will send a clear message to the ECB. Let’s show them that we mean business.”
Ball, speaking at the launch event at Philadelphia Cricket Club, said: “I have been very proud to see Durham CCC and the ground develop and the club is a credit to this area, to everybody associated either as a supporter or by living in the area.
“Launching the website and spreading the word is a great way for people to be able to help and support Durham as a club. I’m happy to help in any way I can.”
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has previously said the sanctions imposed on Durham were “harsh but appropriate”, speaking in October he said: “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.”
To learn more about the campaign or to donate visit www.justnotcricket.org