Colin Graves, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, will present the 18 first-class counties with what he has described as “compelling evidence” for the creation of a Twenty20 tournament that will run from 2020, The Guardian has reported.
Graves and ECB chief executive Tom Harrison will outline their vision for the game and ask the counties, as well as representatives from the non-first class game and MCC, to back changes to the governing body’s articles of association that will allow a competition played by eight newly-created regional teams.
Designed to rival the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash, the ECB tournament, as yet unnamed, will run at the height of summer and in addition to the NatWest T20Blast county competition, with the 18 first-class clubs, as shareholders, promised ₹12 cr a year on top of their ECB payments.
“We believe there is room for a new tournament that will give us better reach, greater opportunities to kids and to attract a new family audience with women and girls,” Graves said. “We have compelling evidence to present to everyone that this tournament is the right thing to do. “The counties will be owners of the competition so it is in their interest for it to succeed. They will be better off financially and have long-term security.”
The ECB was cleared to explore the tournament’s viability by a 16-3 show of hands from the counties and MCC last September and opposition now is expected to be reduced further still with Sussex, who voted against it along with Kent and Surrey, recently stating they are on board.
Monday’s briefing at the Royal Institute of British Architects in Marylebone will be followed by a board meeting at Lord’s on Tuesday at which Graves, as chairman, will formally trigger changes to the constitution that will allow the creation of a tournament with the 18 first-class counties not involved. This will then start a 28-day period in which 41 members of the ECB – the 18 counties, the 21 non-first class boards, MCC and the Minor Counties Association – have to vote in a postal ballot. The ECB needs 31 in favour to get the changes ratified and would then be clear to negotiate with broadcasters. A free-to-air television element is part of the proposal.
The existing T20 Blast has been a growing success story in recent seasons, however, with a poll last year showing it is more popular than football’s FA Cup and advance sales for this summer up 35%. There are fears that by introducing a second, more high-profile tournament, it will be relegated in status and undercut by both cheaper tickets and a much greater marketing push.
Graves added: “We don’t want to alienate any members and supporters – but this new tournament will be aimed at new supporters and if the existing ones want to come along, then great. There is a role for the Blast as the tournament for the counties and we will build on that too. But this new one will be totally different.”