Kent's chairman, George Kennedy, has confirmed that the club is seeking arbitration with the England & Wales Cricket Board after being overlooked for a place in Division One of the County Championship in the wake of Durham's post-season relegation.

Kent finished as runners-up in Division Two this season, which would ordinarily have been sufficient to earn them promotion. However, with the Championship moving to an eight-team top flight from 2017 onwards, the only spot available went to the champions Essex.

However, Durham's 48-point penalty for financial issues, and subsequent relegation, led to suggestions that Kent ought to have been invited to take their place in Division One. Instead, the ECB confirmed that Hampshire, who finished second-from-bottom in the table, would be allowed to stay up.

In a letter to the ECB seen by The Times, Kent described the decision as "prejudiced, perverse and contrary to natural justice," and even went so far as to claim that Durham officials had been told in May that they would be relegated.

""We have [sent the letter] - they would have received it yesterday," Kennedy told PA. "We have asked for arbitration in the situation, and we'll see what comes of that."

Kennedy added that he had met with Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, last week to discuss the issue.

"It was an amicable meeting - we were able to exchange opinions. One or two things have come to light since then, so we thought we would bring it to a head - and that is exactly what we've done."

"We can confirm receipt of a letter from Kent county cricket club regarding the issue of promotion and relegation," said an ECB spokesperson.

"Last week's decision to relegate Durham - with Hampshire remaining in the first division of the Specsavers County Championship - was in line with the two-down, one-up relegation and promotion rules for this season's county championship which were notified to all counties and published prior to start of the 2016 season.

"We are currently considering our response to Kent's letter and will reply to them in due course."

Durham issued a statement denying the details in the Times report: "Contrary to today's press report, Durham county cricket club can confirm that they were not told in May that the club would be relegated at the end of the season."