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ECB announces expanded competition structure for women's game with three-tiered model and increased investment

The ECB have announced a new structure for women's domestic cricket that will run from 2025-2028; under the new 'three-tier model', there will be no promotion or relegation; Eight clubs will be granted 'Tier 1' status; there will also be increased investment in the women's game

Women's domestic cricket will take on a three-tier model from 2025
Image: Women's domestic cricket will take on a three-tier model from 2025

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the creation of a three-tiered domestic competition structure and a shift in the ownership model underpinning the women’s professional game.

​​​​​​As well as the new structure, the ECB will invest an extra £4-5m per year in the women's professional game from 2025-2028. This will take annual investment up to £16m.

The plan will see the current eight women's Regional teams evolve to become 'Tier 1 Clubs' and each will be 'owned, governed, and operated by an individual First Class County (FCC) or Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)'.

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Each of the 18 FCCs and MCC have received an invitation to tender a bid to become a women's Tier 1 club and have until March 10 to submit their application.

Under the current plans, for the duration of the 2025-2028 seasons all three tiers will be 'closed', with no promotion or relegation.

These clubs will make up the top tier of the new three-tier model and will participate in the ECB's women's professional T20 and 50-over competitions from 2025 onwards.

Key aims of work to evolve the women's professional game structure

• Ensuring stronger ownership, accountability, and governance to support the growth of women's cricket.
• Creating scale and visibility for the women's game to accelerate team and player fandom.
• Establishing a more compelling platform to commercialise women's cricket, while enhancing existing arrangements for FCCs with commercial partners who want to sponsor aligned male and female sports properties.
• Providing long-term stability and a deeper sense of belonging for the women's teams and female players.

Once this process is completed, those FCCs not awarded Tier 1 status and National Counties will be invited into the process to determine Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs.

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ECB chief executive Richard Gould said: "Since 2020, through the advent of the women's regional model, we have seen significant progress in the professionalisation of women's cricket, but we are still only just scratching the surface of its potential.

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"To continue moving forward, and to make cricket a gender-balanced sport, we need a change in the ownership model and governance structure underpinning the women's professional game.

"This invitation to tender and the uplift in funding therefore represents our next step: a step that 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 to enable it to go further, grow faster and reach its full potential."

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ECB director of women's professional game, Beth Barrett-Wild, said: "The pace and nature of change within the women's cricket landscape over the last 10 years, but especially the last five, has been rapid and transformational.

"The number of opportunities for girls and women to access the sport has never been greater, and the number of people following and falling in love with the women's game has never been higher.

"We believe that the next chapter is less about the separate transformation of women's cricket and more about the whole game evolving together.

"The invitation to tender issued to all 18 of our FCCs and MCC today to progress the ownership and governance of our eight women's professional teams, along with the significant expansion of the women's domestic competition structure from 2025 and uplift in funding, represent crucial next steps in cricket evolving into the sport we want it to be.

"One with equality of opportunity for men and women, boys and girls, to feel like it is a game for them."

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