English Premier League July 16, 2008

ECB unveils new Twenty20 tournament

Cricinfo staff

Top Curve
Changes in the English domestic scene

No Pro40, but two Twenty20 tournaments in England © Getty Images

  • The EPL will get underway in June 2010, with 18 counties and two guest teams split into two divisions
  • The counties will later contest a Twenty20 League primarily on Friday nights in July and August, which will determine the qualifiers for the Champions League.
  • The current Pro40 competition will be scrapped, but there will be one 50-over tournament.
  • The County Championship [first-class league] will be played in a two-division structure, with each team contesting 16 matches.
Bottom Curve

The much-anticipated English Premier League will get underway in 2010, with two divisions made up of ten teams, after the ECB unveiled a radical shake-up of the domestic game following its board meeting at Lord's.

In a unanimous decision, the format that has been agreed upon will involve all 18 first-class counties, plus two overseas sides to make up the numbers, with the matches to be played in the month of June. One of the teams will be provided by Allen Stanford and it is believed the other will be from India, with the winners of the IPL the likely choice.

A separate Twenty20 League for the 18 counties will then take place, primarily on Friday nights in July and August, and will act as the qualifier for the Champions League. The current Pro40 competition will be scrapped to make way for the competition.

"I am delighted that the board unanimously supported these creative proposals," said the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke. "I would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work and thank those who went to considerable time and trouble to produce documents for discussion.

"We have already received enormous broadcast and sponsor interest from around the world which was reported to the board by the chief executive David Collier."

The proposal that had been put forward by the MCC chief executive, Keith Bradshaw, and Surrey's chairman, David Stewart, for a nine-team league modelled on the Indian Premier League was rejected out of hand, although in a press release, Stewart threw his weight behind the new initiative. "These are extremely exciting and satisfying proposals for the future of domestic cricket in England and Wales," he said. "I am delighted to support them.

"They incorporate some excellent ideas and Keith Bradshaw and I were delighted to be able to submit our ideas as part of the decision making process and to build on the robust structure proposed by the ECB as a result of detailed consultations undertaken."

According to the ECB, the structure of the new league was decided upon following detailed market research in which spectators stated their desire to watch more Twenty20 cricket. Some of the funding ideas in Bradshaw and Stewart's plan were incorporated at the meeting.

The board also agreed the 2010 season would include a single 50-over competition and 16 County Championship matches in a two-division structure. "We looked at the Schofield Report, which stated that we should be playing competitions that mirror international competitions," Clarke told Sky Sports News.

"Spectators want to watch Twenty20 cricket on Friday nights, in the months of July, August and September, and the county championship in midweek. This is about giving the spectator what they want."

David Smith, Leicestershire's chief executive, told Cricinfo he was "delighted" with the announcement. "The ECB has got it right," he said. "It has maintained 16 four-day games which I think is sacrosanct for the development of Test cricket. We also needed a bit more Twenty20 and an EPL is an exciting prospect. It was obvious that one of the competitions had to go."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kevin on July 19, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    Not sure if 20/20 on just Friday nights will be that successful especially in September.What's wrong with Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Will there be no cricket at all at weekends for July,August and September any more? It was dark this June by 8.15PM when clouds came and I doubt many games will be under floodlights.

  • Paul on July 18, 2008, 14:07 GMT

    A missed opportunity - The ECB should have had the teeth to remove the excess cricket (early season one-dayers and Second XIs) and insist on 3 competitions only; 1) the Championship, 2) a late season one-day competition on Sundays - benefiting prospective England players and county supporters alike - and 3) a commercially successfully Twenty20 - played in June-July attracting new supporters into grounds and broadcasters around the world. I am not in favour of a reduction to 9 franchises; however the county chiefs have again let the game in this country down. Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

  • Gilliane on July 18, 2008, 12:35 GMT

    I must admit I am one of the great fans of Twenty/20 and this form of the game has actually kept me interested in the game. I am West Indian and the late performance of the Windies Team have left me wanting. Actually in the Australia Tour of the West Indies 08 this is the only segment won by the Windies. In my view 20/20 (this Fast Pace Exciting Form of Cricket) has brought in more of the young cricket fans who use to view the sport as boring.

    These new fans are now looking forward to all forms of cricket. I say it is a positive.

  • Nigel on July 18, 2008, 10:52 GMT

    It is interesting to note that many people commenting here on how T20 is ruining Test cricket are not noticing how many Test series are absolutely devoid of paying patrons, that T20 is pulling youth to look at and participate in the game in larger numbers and gives the game a format/product that is easily adaptable, and hence export ready. Examine the following situations: South Africa put everyone other than the 13 players on the field, the match officials and the commentary team that was probably very caffeine dependent at the time to sleep while making their country proud by saving the recent Test vs. England. KKR could not qualify for the IPL playoffs, but played a very enthralling last game in the tournament, that I looked at ball by ball till the final swipe from Saurav Ganguly's blade. Now tell me - which choice do you think prospective sponsors will make to maximise on their advertising investment based on those observations?

  • Saad on July 18, 2008, 3:13 GMT

    i appreciate T20 but it has made cricket totally different.now cricket has become more faster,colourful n exciting.but these leagues could be dangerous.in the IPL there was large number of audience throughout the world but the Asia Cup suffered alot as there was very less number of spectators even in the Indo-Pak game.this is modern era n people like that things which take less duration n T20 is the short version in cricket which was wanted much before also n T20 could help cricket to be included in olympics too but now boards are trying to earn money through it which is sad.after India,Pakistan also wants to start PPL n now England wants to have EPL.i think ECB should prevent from starting this league because after having a season of T20 people get bored in watching ODI n Test Cricket of which the Asia Cup is a great example.because Pakistan is the second largest audience n number of spectators in the tournament was not up to the mark.so EPL should be prevented

  • Keith on July 17, 2008, 22:34 GMT

    I appreciate T20, have enjoyed many an ODI, and respect Tests as the purest iteration of the sport. Pro40 is the odd-one-out, and deserved to be dropped in its current form...

    Having said that, 40-overs-a-side offers a great opportunity to blend essential elements of Test cricket into a one-day format. Some have envisioned a 4-innings contest, each consisting of 20 overs with rules similar to Test cricket. In this era of experimentation, fed by growth of a global mass audience, and seeking to nuture growth beyond the traditional Test world, I hope to see Pro40 redesigned to fill the widening gap between short-cricket and the longest forms of the game. If a new style of Pro40 succeeds, it could answer the need for a proper one-day format that would ultimately replace 50-overs-a-side ODIs, lighten the now over-taxed international schedule, and redress the balance of cricket more in favour of the qualities that have made earned Test cricket the title of "The Greatest Game."

  • Nigel on July 17, 2008, 21:42 GMT

    I hope Mr. Stanford, his minions, the WICB and the private sector within the Caribbean territories are looking closely at how leagues are being formed in the other countries that are dialing up profits vis 20/20 tournaments. It is the next step for the Stanford group and the Stanford 20/20 - have a maximum of eight teams play in a re-vamped league throughout the region in the major islands with grounds to facilitate such a situation: Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. Franchises in each of these countries can play for prize money put up by Mr. Stanford, etc. If this is not done, West Indies will miss out on future versions of the International 20/20 league playoffs, creating further despair in the long run for our cricketers, who are always going to find it more difficult to make the grade of the teams of foreign leagues. This is where the focus of the ICC should be!!!

  • Vikram on July 17, 2008, 17:09 GMT

    Great news for cricket hungry audience. However I will be surprised if this tournament grabs international attention. IPL was a great success and so will be ECL, but only from financial point of view. Cricket will be a loser for sure.

  • Shrinivas on July 17, 2008, 15:10 GMT

    If I am not mistaken, Great Britain has about half of India's population(might even be lesser). To top it up, football is more popular than cricket in that region. So I do not think it will have even half the success of the IPL. I am not really game for two T-20 competitions. I feel ther should be something like a test world cup where 5 to seven of the world's best teams get to participate. I feel IPL and EPL shoud be two yearly. The best case scenario would be if both of them collaborate. With the current crazy cricket schedule it looks like even 365 days seem inadequate.

  • Bill on July 17, 2008, 15:09 GMT

    I don't understand where the need to copy the IPL came from - we already have a Twenty20 Cup, it's called the Twenty20 Cup, and it's been very successful for a number of years now. The matches continually sell out, so there is clearly no need to radically change the format. Perhaps make the T20 cup a bit longer to get a bit more money in, and I'm not against the idea of a couple of extra teams - the more the merrier! I just really dislike the whole EPL idea - like IanMac said, it can't be a premier league as it has two divisions!

    I just really don't see the point in this, it's just going to be too much of a good thing, and will either fail or detract from the existing T20 cup, which would be a great shame.

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