ECB Unveils Ambitious Plan for Three-Tiered Women’s Cricket Structure

ECB announces a groundbreaking plan for women’s cricket, introducing a three-tiered competition structure and ownership model. The initiative aims to propel the professionalization of women’s cricket to new heights.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has unveiled a transformative plan aimed at restructuring and elevating women’s domestic cricket through a three-tiered competition system and an innovative ownership model.

In a groundbreaking move, the current eight women’s regional teams will evolve into professional ‘Tier 1 Clubs,’ with each club being owned, governed, and operated by an individual First Class County (FCC) or Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). This significant shift is set to commence in the 2025 season.

The ECB has extended invitations to tender to the 18 FCCs and MCC, urging them to submit bids to become a women’s Tier 1 Club by March 10, 2024. Additionally, the ECB has committed to investing an additional £4-5 million annually into the women’s professional game from 2025 to 2028, bringing the total annual investment to £16 million.

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Richard Gould, ECB Chief Executive Officer, expressed the necessity for a change in the ownership model and governance structure to further the professionalization of women’s cricket. “This step will embed the ownership of our eight women’s professional teams within the game, drive accountability, and elevate the status of women’s domestic cricket,” Gould explained.

After the tender process, county clubs not awarded Tier 1 status, along with National Counties, will be involved in determining the composition of Tier 2 and Tier 3 in the revamped women’s domestic competition structure. The finalized process is expected to be confirmed by September 2024, paving the way for the full launch of the evolved structure in 2025.

The three-tiered system will be ‘closed’ during the 2025-2028 seasons, with no promotion or relegation. The ECB aims to create an inclusive cricket environment, fostering equal opportunities for men and women. The plan signifies a crucial next step in the rapid and transformative evolution of women’s cricket over the last decade.

Beth Barrett-Wild, ECB Director of Women’s Professional Game, emphasized the holistic evolution of the game, stating, “We believe that the next chapter is less about the separate transformation of women’s cricket and more about the whole game evolving together.”

An Evaluation Panel, comprising members of the Board, Executive team, and independent experts, will be appointed by the ECB to oversee the implementation of these structural changes.

IANS