As EMIRATES Riverside’s showpiece one-day international fixture between England and Australia in June heads towards an early sell-out, Durham County Cricket Club has revealed that it is moving into a position of strength.

As the club unveiled its accounts for last year it said its net asset position was the strongest it has been since 2010, thanks to a number of factors, including a positive profit from hosting the West Indies IT20 match, additional English Cricket Board distributions and reduced loan interest payments.

The club also said its financial plan should see the council debt – now in the form of preference shares – paid off in full, ten years earlier than under the previous loan. The accounts also reveal that the club received the most performance related funding from the ECB across all counties with respect to developing England qualified players.

Terry Collins, chief executive at Durham County Council, said: “The club plays a hugely important role for both our county and the wider region and this year has once again demonstrated the significant benefit the club can bring to the whole of the North-East.

“The sell-out fixture between England and the West Indies provided a real boost to the local economy, raised the profile of Durham on a global scale and illustrates the value of hosting international matches in our region.”

The accounts, released yesterday, show there was also significant growth across all commercial revenue streams. The conference business grew 16 per cent on the previous year as 34,668 conference guests visited. The venue also hosted its first marriage ceremony, after becoming licensed in March. Hospitality sold out for the West Indies IT20 and domestic T20 and sponsorship grew as the club revealed a second lounge sponsor with Royal Caribbean rebranding the Lumley Lounge.

The year also saw the introduction of a number of new projects, including supporting and delivering a nationally recognised mental health programme, a new partnership with Park View School in Chester-le-Street and a gender equality programme designed to empower young women and girls through cricket.

A girl’s academy was launched and partnerships formed with Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham universities to develop woman and girls cricket, and a series of Ladies Days last summer attracted more players than any other county.

Mr Collins, said: “The club continues to play a vital role within our communities and we are delighted that so many people engaged with the wide range of initiatives on offer.”