ECB to run 3-tier domestic women’s competition; invites bids from first-class counties to run teams

February 1, 2024
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that it will helm the creation of a three-tiered domestic competition structure and embrace an ownership model to evolve the women’s professional game.

London, Feb 1 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that it will helm the creation of a three-tiered domestic competition structure and embrace an ownership model to evolve the women’s professional game.

Under this plan to revamp women’s domestic cricket system in the country, the existing eight women’s regional teams will evolve to be professional ‘Tier 1 Clubs’ – each owned, governed, and operated by an individual First Class County (FCC) or Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

These eight clubs will compete in the top level of an expanded three-tiered women’s domestic structure – participating in the ECB’s women’s professional T20 and 50-over competitions – from the 2025 season.

The 18 FCCs and MCC have therefore each now received an invitation to tender from the ECB to become a women’s Tier 1 Club and have until March 10, 2024 to submit a bid. ECB also said it will invest a further 4-5 million pounds per year into the women’s professional game from 2025-2028, taking the annual investment in this space to 16 million pounds.

“Since 2020, through the advent of the women’s Regional Model, we have seen significant progress in the professionalisation of women’s cricket, but we are still only just scratching the surface of its potential.”

“To continue moving forward, and to make cricket a gender-balanced sport, we need a change in the ownership model and governance structure underpinning the women’s professional game.”

“This invitation to tender and the uplift in funding therefore represents our next step: a step that will embed the ownership of our eight women’s professional teams within the game, drive accountability, and elevate the status of women’s domestic cricket to enable it to go further, grow faster and reach its full potential,” said ECB Chief Executive Officer Richard Gould.

After the conclusion of the tender process, the ECB said county clubs who were not awarded Tier 1 status and, separately, all National Counties will be invited to be involved in a process to determine the composition of Tier 2 and Tier 3 in the new-look women’s domestic competition structure.

ECB also said the process will be confirmed by September 2024, ahead of launching the evolved women’s domestic structure in full in 2025. For the duration of the 2025-2028 seasons all three tiers will be ‘closed’, with no promotion or relegation.

“The invitation to tender issued to all 18 of our FCCs and MCC today to progress the ownership and governance of our eight women’s professional teams, along with the significant expansion of the women’s domestic competition structure from 2025 and uplift in funding, represent crucial next steps in cricket evolving into the sport we want it to be.”

“The pace and nature of change within the women’s cricket landscape over the last ten years, but especially the last five, has been rapid and transformational. The number of opportunities for girls and women to access the sport has never been greater, and the number of people following and falling in love with the women’s game has never been higher.”

“We believe that the next chapter is less about the separate transformation of women’s cricket and more about the whole game evolving together. One with equality of opportunity for men and women, boys and girls, to feel like it is a game for them,” said ECB Director of Women’s Professional Game Beth Barrett-Wild.

ECB further said it will appoint an Evaluation Panel consisting of members of the Board, members of its Executive team and independent experts. The final composition and named personnel will be confirmed with FCCs/MCC in due course.

–IANS

nr/bc

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