ECB Announces new competition structure for women’s cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) strides to its third significant overhaul for the women’s game within the last eight years. This time, they’re introducing a ‘three-tier model’ and to achieve the same, a massive investment in women’s cricket.

ECB Announces new competition structure for women's cricket. PC: Getty
ECB Announces new competition structure for women’s cricket. PC: Getty

In 2020, the ECB introduced a regional format, featuring eight teams competing in 50 and 20-over domestic competitions. These teams were centrally owned and funded by the ECB, however; now, under the new model, ownership and management will be transferred back to the counties, with the existing eight teams forming the first tier.

The ECB has extended invitations to counties to submit bids for regional team ownership, with the opportunity to rebrand and enhance both the team’s professionalism and financial standing starting in 2025. All 18 counties, along with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), can submit their proposals and those not granted tier 1 status will have the chance to fill slots in tiers two and three.

With tier 1 invitations due by March 10, the entire process is scheduled for completion by September. The introduction of the new three-tier structure is designed to ‘further grow the depth and reach of the women’s professional game.’ As part of this initiative, the ECB has pledged an annual investment of £4m to £5m in the women’s game from 2025 to 2028, increasing its yearly funding to around £16m.

The revamped model prioritizes stronger ownership, accountability, and governance, aiming to elevate the scale and visibility of women’s cricket. By accelerating fan engagement with teams and players and commercializing the sport, it seeks to provide long-term stability. The ECB will assess the bids based on each county’s capacity to fulfill these objectives.

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It is understood that while a number of first-class counties have expressed financial concerns, a few franchises, including Essex and Durham, have welcomed the decision and are keen on winning one of the eight-tier 1 spots. Notably, Surrey and Sussex have already announced their intentions to submit bids.

ECB Director of Women’s Professional Game Beth Barrett-Wild on the development stated, “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.

“… 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.”

(Quotes sourced from ECB media release)

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