County news March 10, 2017

Financial threat to obstructionist counties

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There is yet to be consensus on the way forward for English T20 © Getty Images

Counties delaying the ECB's plans for a new domestic T20 competition could be penalised according to a new document circulated by the ECB.

While the ECB has previously guaranteed counties a minimum payment of £1.3m a year, they have now warned that only those counties which have signed their media rights over to the ECB will be eligible for such a fee. "Each First-class county which has signed the media deed would receive a guaranteed minimum annual sum," the document states.

They have not provided a deadline for the agreement but it could be interpreted as an attempt to ramp up the pressure on counties with reservations over the ECB's plans ahead of what might well prove to be a pivotal vote.

County chief executives and chairmen meet on March 27 when they will discuss a proposed change to the constitution of the ECB. The current constitution states that: "The board shall not have the power to deprive a first-class county club of the right to participate in all first-class county competitions authorised by the ECB."

If the new competition is to be authorised, two-thirds of those first-class counties will have to agree that such wording is changed to allow competitions that do not involve all 18 counties. It is anticipated that the vote will take place in April.

It also transpires that county players appearing in the new competition will have to repay some of their salary to their counties. And, while it has previously become apparent that England's Test players will not be available to appear in the competition, they will be used in the marketing and promotion of the competition.

The key points are these:

  • Test matches will be played during the window for the new competition. The document says this means: "Test Players are not anticipated to play in the new competition if selected in the relevant Test squads."

  • The intended start date of the new competition is July 24, 2020, with the final scheduled for August 30. The Blast is likely to begin at the end of May.

  • The competition will consist of 36 games played in a 38-day window. Every game will be televised and each team will host four games.

  • The domestic 50-over competition will continue at the same time despite the absence of the best 96 limited-overs cricketers; an average of five per county. That means, according to the ECB document, that "there is likely to be a requirement to play at out-grounds for counties whose venues are used by new teams."

  • County coaches are to be made available to coach the new teams if their county employers are willing to release them.

  • Each of the eight new teams will have a 15-man squad for the new competition. There will be three overseas players per squad.

  • Each team is to have a set player budget to be spent in the draft and, at the draft, 13 players will be selected per team. Two players per squad will be deemed "wildcards" and will be selected after the group stages of the T20 Blast (the existing T20 competition contested by all 18 counties). The intention, the ECB states, is "to reward in-form players not originally picked up in the draft and to link the narrative between the Blast and the new competition."

  • There will be six salary bands (A-F, with A the most expensive) with two players selected per team from each band, apart from the lowest band (F) from which three will be selected. Teams will draw lots before each round of the draft to determine who gets first pick. There will be a 24-hour trade period following the draft so teams can swap one or two players from within the same group. Overseas players will be able to pick a salary level at A, B and D grades only.

  • It is proposed that teams could retain a maximum of eight players and a minimum of four players into the second year of the competition.

  • It is the "the strong recommendation" of the marketing companies involved in the launch of the competition that it features "new team (i.e. non-county based) brands, to drive reappraisal and differentiation from existing cricket."

  • All commercial and ticketing matters will be centrally organised. Revenues will be taken centrally. Venues will be paid a staging fee and be allowed to keep hospitality and catering revenue.

  • Venues will be chosen according to their capacity, transport links, catchment area, facilities and relationship with their local authority.

  • A new sub-committee of the ECB Board, comprising a chairperson and independent directors bringing specialist skills would oversee the tournament design and implementation. A new central division within the ECB would be formed to run the tournament.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • BrianMcCullough on March 13, 2017, 12:48 GMT

    I hope that you are right PYOALM - I am not convinced that the target audience has been clearly identified, either for attending or televising.

    Also the already established Caribbean PL runs from end-June to end of first week of August, so what chance has this new competition got of attracting 24 overseas players that even existing cricket fans have heard of?

  • py0alb on March 13, 2017, 11:11 GMT

    I do think that there is a very real prospect that this tournament will fall flat on its face, why would fans travel 100 miles to see a random team of mercenaries when they can watch their own county play just down the road?

    Its also scheduled for a point of the summer when the majority of families will be abroad on holiday, and the students will have all gone home for the summer (ie away from the cities where these games will be played)

    There are so many intelligent, capable people in this country who understand both cricket and how to run a successful league, so why do none of them work at the ECB? They're all incompetent.

  • py0alb on March 13, 2017, 11:04 GMT

    "for every 100 cricketers in this country, 99 of them play nothing other than 50-over cricket"

    Complete nonsense, I'm afraid. For every weekend league game with 40-50 overs, there are about 4 T20 weekday evenings played in this country.

    Most weekend cricketers also play evening cricket, but most evening cricketers don't play at the weekend. Factor in juniors, who ONLY play T20 games and have done since the 80s, and it would be accurate to say that 80% of cricketers only play T20s.

    The most popular format of recreational cricket is T20 - by some distance - and has been for decades. It amazes me that the pros took so long to catch up.

  • cricfan74822000 on March 13, 2017, 1:12 GMT

    This manner of talking seems to have inflicted the ECB as Andrew Strauss himself is not adverse to a bit of managerial gibberish also. When discussing Root's captaincy recently he spoke of (citing from memory) ''creating the right England environment''!

  • DesPlatt on March 12, 2017, 15:40 GMT

    So right Cricinfouser. Also, this sort of management psychobollocks makes you lose the will to live

    "It is the "the strong recommendation" of the marketing companies involved in the launch of the competition that it features "new team (i.e. non-county based) brands, to drive reappraisal and differentiation from existing cricket.""

    I hope it creates a "fan centric experience" ; the aim of Lancashire's new website last season. This fan has virtually lost interest in the modern game

  • Cricinfouser on March 12, 2017, 11:56 GMT

    When the size of bats is under discussion around the grounds both large and small is there any size of stick which the ECB is limited to with which they can beat the counties into submission? The 20 over game seems to continue to obsess these centralised mandarins and their acolytes to the detriment of everything else! Talk about babies and bath water!!

  • rdk81 on March 11, 2017, 22:28 GMT

    Surely the great thing about a big t20 comp over here would be seeing the best players we have captaining teams and facing off against each other. Without the test players this is no better than the Blast

  • bruvvereccles94 on March 11, 2017, 20:47 GMT

    Sounds dreadful. The sort of thing you get when accountants decide, rather than people who understand cricket.

  • yorkshire-86 on March 11, 2017, 18:26 GMT

    So the country's premier 50 over competition will have weakened squads to cater for this hit and giggle vanity project. Firstly, RIP our chances of success in the world cup, if our best prospects are playing hit and giggle when they should be practicing the main 50-over game. Also, RIP the link between professional and grassroots cricket. For every 100 cricketers in this country, 99 of them play nothing other than 50-over cricket (well 40-60 over depending on which league). Now, while the tens of thousands of cricketers around the country play 50 overs every Saturday, the pros are playing 20 overs and 4-day cricket.

  • markatnotts on March 11, 2017, 14:33 GMT

    What a mess, I largely agree with most other commentators. There is nothing wrong with the competition as it was last year based on all 18 counties, and attendances have improved noticeably at TB since the Friday night/Saturday afternoon timing started, and not so many games shoe horned into 7 days. I do however think things are generally better with the ECB than the bad old days of the TCCB and counties being run by retired men with too much time on their hands and no idea how to run a bath. County power then meant the national side was held back throughout the '80's and '90's.

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