Olivier Bernard: Ex-Newcastle defender buys Durham City

Olivier Bernard of Newcastle United skips past Xavi of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League in 2003

Former Newcastle United defender Olivier Bernard has become the owner and chairman of non-league Durham City.

The Citizens, who play on an artificial pitch, are in Northern League Division One - English football's ninth tier.

Frenchman Bernard, 34, played 145 times for the Magpies between 2000 and 2005 before retiring six years ago.

"I want to make Durham one of the best feeder clubs in the north east. At the moment, I don't think the area develops enough youngsters," he told BBC Sport.

In the 1920s, Durham spent seven seasons in Division Three North - their only spell as a Football League club.

Since reforming in 1950 after disbanding 12 years before, they have occupied the lower echelons of the non-league pyramid.

They won promotion to the Northern Premier League in 2009, but were told by the Football Conference that because of their pitch, they would not be eligible to progress further up the ladder.

"At the moment, I am not thinking about the problem of the pitch because that is a few promotions away," Bernard said.

"I want to raise the profile of the club and get links with Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

"Look at the England team, how many of them are from around here? I'll do everything I can to get players to Durham and help develop them."