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News

Yorkshire granted women's Tier 1 team from 2026, one year ahead of schedule

ECB change plans after outcry about omission of largest county from initial competition

The Yorkshire CCC logo, painted on the side of the roller at Headingley, LV= Championship, May 1, 2022

The Yorkshire CCC logo, painted on the side of the roller at Headingley  •  Getty Images

Yorkshire, England's largest county, will be granted a Tier 1 women's team from 2026 onwards, in time for the second year of the new domestic competition, following a rethink by the ECB board.
Yorkshire was initially overlooked when the ECB unveiled its eight host counties for the competition's inaugural year in 2025, with Durham instead chosen to represent England's northern-most region. They were due to be added to an expanded ten-team competition in 2027, along with Glamorgan, with Richard Gould, the ECB chair, insisting that the club was not being "punished for past sins" following their long-standing racism scandal.
That, however, was met with widespread criticism within Yorkshire, notably from the club's first female president, Jane Powell, who told the Yorkshire Post that the decision ignored "logic or facts", including the presence of 313 women's and girl's teams within the county.
The impact on the current playing squad at the Headingley-based Northern Diamonds was also a consideration in the ECB's change of heart, with Lauren Winfield-Hill last week telling Wisden's Women's Cricket Weekly podcast how "unsettled" the players had been at the prospect of relocation.
Now, the ECB has decided that Yorkshire's elevation to Tier 1 will take place a year ahead of schedule, and with their funding increasing to £1.5 million per year from 2026, subject to a series of conditions relating to governance, strategy and finance. Earlier this week, Colin Graves, Yorkshire's chair, issued a warning about the club's levels of debt, currently in the region of £20 million, adding that a process of demutualisation "appears essential to the club's future".
ECB Director of Women's Professional Game Beth Barrett-Wild said: "We talked in April about the strength of the bids brought to the ECB and about the pace with which we all want the game to progress to the next level.
"Yorkshire's desire to be part of Tier 1 as soon as possible is clear, and we believe it's the best decision for them, the women's game, and most importantly for the players as they enter a phase of contract negotiation, to provide as much certainty as we can about the introduction timeline for both Yorkshire and Glamorgan.
"As Yorkshire are existing regional hosts they are starting from a different position to Glamorgan, who we think will benefit from having two years between 2025-2027 to develop their talent pathway across Wales and experience running a women's senior team in Tier 2. This extra lead-in time will therefore enable them to establish a solid platform from which to build a competitive Tier 1 team and proposition in due course.
"We look forward to getting the new three-tiered structure underway next summer, and setting in motion the next exciting stage of women's professional domestic cricket."
The new women's structure, which builds on the existing Regional model, will be spread across three Tiers, but with no promotion or relegation for the duration of the first four seasons up to and including 2028.