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ECB abandons plans for EPL

The ECB is scaling down plans to launch an Twenty20 English Premier League to try to rival India's IPL, according to a report in the Times.

Last summer, the board announced a 20-team EPL, featuring the 18 first-class counties and two overseas sides, one formed by Allen Stanford. But logistical issues, the credit crunch and the cooling of Stanford's interest has led to the scheme being rethought and renamed.

The competition, provisionally called the P20, with the P standing for Premier, will revert to the tried and trusted two leagues of nine with two up, two down promotion and relegation. The one concession that remains is that counties will be able to field up to four overseas players.

The ECB's Nigel Hilliard admitted to the newspaper that expectations had been raised to unrealistic levels and the fact the existing Twenty20 competition was a great success needed to be taken into account.

"The proposal for 20 teams has been dropped for the moment," Hilliard said. "We may look at it again if somebody puts up a lot of money, but they are not about to."

This news represents a complete climbdown for the ECB which last July announced its new 20-team competition, based, it claimed, on detailed market research. "This is about giving the spectator what they want," ECB chairman Giles Clarke said. It appears that what the spectators want and what the ECB can deliver has changed markedly in the last few months.