County vote clears way for revolutionary city-based competition in 2020.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed that it will introduce a new eight-team, franchise-based Twenty20 competition in 2020.
The 41 ECB members have voted by a margin of 38 to three to amend the national governing body's articles of association, effectively allowing the new teams to be formed, with a portion of revenues to be redirected to existing county teams. Those voting were representatives of the 18 first-class counties, who comprise the current elite domestic professional set-up in the men's game, as well as the non-first-class counties, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the Minor Counties Cricket Association.
The ballot clears the last formal obstacle to the creation of the new tournament, the plans for which were unveiled last month. The new competition, which has partly been inspired by the the likes of the Indian Premier League and Australia's Big Bash League, is set to feature eight 15-man squads with three overseas players in each. 36 matches will be played in 38 days, all of which will be covered live on TV, with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison supporting some live coverage on free-to-air channels to end a 15-year period in which English cricket has been behind a subscription TV paywall.
The ECB currently has an exclusive live domestic TV deal in place with Sky Sports, which will end in 2019.
The as-yet unnamed tournament is to be played in the British school summer holidays, and will at least initially co-exist with the Natwest T20 Blast county competition. Each of the first-class counties will receive an annual UK£1.3 million annual share of the revenue generated by the competition.
"We are delighted that such an overwhelming majority of our Members have voted to support the change to the ECB’s Articles," said ECB chairman Colin Graves. "In doing so, they have paved the way for an exciting new era for cricket in England and Wales.
Over the past year our Members have seen the clear evidence outlining why an additional new T20 competition is the right way for cricket to reach new audiences, create new fans and drive the future of the game. I would like to sincerely thank them for the way they and their members have embraced the process and the debate.
“I passionately believe that the game has chosen the right path. Each of our Members will benefit and, critically, so will the whole game. We can now move on with building an exciting new competition for a new audience to complement our existing competitions – NatWest T20 Blast, Royal London One-Day Cup, the Specsavers County Championship and Kia Super League – plus the international formats, each with its own clear role to play."
Four-day county champions Middlesex joined Essex in voting against the changes, with Kent abstaining. Opposition to the proposals has largely been founded on concerns that the county game could be marginalised and that teams who do not own international-standard grounds might lose out, as they would be less likely to play host to new teams.