March 12, 2003

npower to sponsor Twenty20 Cup

Media Release

Twenty20 Cup
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) today announces that npower, one of the UK's largest energy providers, has become the ECB's first 'official partner' for the new Twenty20 Cup.

The Twenty20 Cup competition will be introduced this coming cricket season, replacing the old Benson & Hedges Cup. Played by the 18 first-class counties, the 20 overs-a-side matches last just two hours 45 minutes, thus creating a shortened, fast-paced version of the traditional one-day game.

Off-the-field entertainment will include live bands, replay screens, BBQ zones and karaoke machines - allowing Twenty20 to attract a wider spectator audience, in particular targeting a younger post-work crowd and offering a great family evening out.

The ECB will benefit from npower's marketing strength, driving awareness amongst its 6m domestic and business customers. npower will enjoy on-pitch, in stadia and perimeter branding rights, a significant ticket allocation and use of official marks for marketing purposes.

Tim Lamb, ECB chief executive, said, "We are delighted to have secured the support of npower for the new Twenty20 Cup. It is an innovative tournament that will market county cricket in an exciting new way to young people all over the country. npower markets to thousands of businesses units in the UK, so they will take the lead in marketing the competition through the workplace channel and we hope to see many people coming with their colleagues to the matches after work"

Kevin Peake, npower Head of Brand, said, "We are excited by what the ECB is doing to broaden the appeal of cricket and feel that there are similarities between the sense of fun and youth promised by the Twenty20 Cup and the npower brand. As the UK's number one energy provider to business, we can also bring a whole new audience of workers to this after-work tournament!!"

npower's move to be first to support the new tournament has been characteristic of its relationship with cricket since becoming Test match sponsors in 2001.

In 2002, it became the first Test sponsor to actively market matches to families and children, with designated npower 'Lion's Den' areas at the games. This project introduced over 6,500 children to Test cricket.

The Twenty 20 Cup begins with five matches taking place on Friday 13 June. With the 18 first- Class Counties split into three groups of six teams, the 45 group matches will be played over a 12 day period. The winners of the three groups and the best runner-up will progress to the finals day on Saturday 19 July.

Extensive media coverage is guaranteed from ECB's broadcast partners. Sky Sports will broadcast eight group matches live as well as the three matches on finals day; Channel 4, meanwhile, will broadcast one match live and highlights of the Final, plus give prominent coverage of the competition in their weekly magazine programme. BBC Radio is planning extensive coverage on its regional and local stations in addition to live ball-by-ball coverage of the Twenty20 final on Radio 5 Live and both Twenty20 semi-finals on 5 Live Extra A new prize money structure has been implemented to encourage both team victories and individual performances. The Twenty20 champions will receive £52,000, the runners-up will get £26,000 and the losing-semi-finalists £15,500 -equal to the prize money on offer for the 2002 Benson & Hedges Cup Final.

Extra incentives will also be made to the best performing individuals with cash prizes of £1,500 going to the best batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders.