Cash-strapped Durham County Council has defended plans to grant a county cricket club £2.8 million of public money just months before it hosts the biggest game of its history.
Durham County Cricket Club has asked for financial backing to ensure it can bring in more high-profile international matches, like the Ashes Test that is coming to its Chester-le-Street ground 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.
Durham County Council is looking to make £200 million of spending cuts.
– Simon Henig, the Labour leader of Durham County Council
"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.
"Next year there are already additional high-profile fixtures which will also bring in millions to the economy and offer us an 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."
– Clive Leach, Club chairman
"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 £60 million 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."