Sir Ian Botham has vowed that Durham County Cricket Club will never again bury their heads in the sand financially.
Well, not on his watch, anyway.
We needed to wake up and smell the coffee
The England legend, who was officially unveiled as the club’s chairman last week, thinks that for too long the county put money worries on the backburner.
Last October, the England and Wales Cricket Board imposed sanctions, including a reduced salary cap, a 48-point deduction in the County Championship and relegation to Division Two, due to the acceptance of a package from the board in order to deal with current and historic debts, said by some to total £7.5million.
And Botham says moving forward the club are keen to make sure they never find themselves in the same mess again.
When asked how close the club was to going to wall, Botham replied: “It’s safe to say it was pretty close. But that is why we needed to get our heads together.
“We needed to wake up and smell the coffee.
“We can bury our heads and expect ECB to pay the bills. It doesn’t work like that. We dont want it to work like that
“We want to have a say in the future of this club, this ground.
“The first priority is getting this club back into Division One.”
Botham accepts that getting the club back in financial order off the park as well as a force in the second tier on it is no straight-forward task.
But he knows it is a challenge that is more than achievable, even short-term.
He continued: “Sometimes you can bury your head in the sand, throw the bones to the end of the garden. But at some point they will rise up
“It will be no easy task but it is a one that is do-able. We are in no rush. We want the right people here, the right mix.
“Of course, we will make it work. I have come here to give it a go.
“The players will hopefully do their stuff on the pitch, and with our work off it, we will soon be back where we belong.”
On the pitch, hanging on to key men over the winter has been Durham’s key battle.
While they have lost Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick to Surrey, hanging on to the core of Durham’s quality has been the main battle for the club over the winter.
While some may believe the contrary, Botham says it hasn’t taken mush persuasion for players to stay or convince them to sign on.
He said: “I’ve got a few players lined up.
“There have been a few getting in touch saying don’t forget about me! They love it up here.”
Hearing the man speak at his press conference last week, it is clear to everyone that Durham and the North East in general has a particular place in Botham’s heart.
And while he never envisaged coming back to the county in this capacity, at this stage in his life, he is relishing the challenge of getting Durham, where he played in the Autumn of his illustrious career, back up.
“It’s a whole new world, a new challenge,” said Botham. “I am 61, have had a great career, have enjoyed it all. I like a challenge - I usually respond to them.
“We have got a magnificent infrastructure. A brilliant ground. We want to see it full again.
“There are a lot of people who are surprised I am sitting here. But why not? I have been in this game all my life. I have seen it from a players point of view, from an England players point of view.
“I feel like I can give a bit back and I can open doors.”