Yorkshire not in ECB’s new ‘Tier 1’ revamp of women’s professional game

By Sports Desk April 17, 2024

Yorkshire will have to wait until 2027 to take part in the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new ‘Tier 1’ revamp of the women’s professional game, after eight other counties were selected to lead the way.

Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire have been chosen as hosts, with the governing body abolishing the existing regional structure in favour of alignment with the first-class counties.

The blow to Yorkshire, for whom this is a further setback after several turbulent years on and off the field, has been mitigated by a promise to bring them into an expanded competition in the third season.

Glamorgan have been given the same assurances and both will receive additional funding to help build their pathway.

But there will be no ‘Tier 1’ cricket at Lord’s in the foreseeable future, with MCC declining to put itself forward and Middlesex among those overlooked. Sussex have also been left on the outside looking in, despite a long and strong commitment to the women’s game.

They will be hoping to be included as the elite level continues to grow, with the ECB outlining plans to further expand to 12 teams by 2029.

ECB chief executive Richard Gould said: “I’d like to congratulate those counties who have been successful in their bids.

“I’m also delighted that in light of the support we have seen and the strength of the bids we have considered, we can accelerate our plans, including new top tier professional teams at Glamorgan and Yorkshire by 2027 with a further two being introduced by 2029.

“More professional teams means more women able to make a career out of being a cricketer, more role models to inspire future generations, and more of the country having a women’s professional team to follow nearby.

“I recognise today’s announcement will also be disappointing to those who haven’t been successful at this stage. But with the new three-tier structure we are introducing, there is still a huge opportunity for them to compete in the other tiers so together we can all realise the potential of women’s domestic cricket.”

Beth Barrett-Wild, the ECB’s director of the women’s professional game, praised the calibre of offers from around the country.

“At the start of this tender process we challenged the first-class counties to show us their vision for the women’s professional game and to demonstrate their desire and commitment to becoming one of our professional Tier 1 clubs,” she said.

“Over the last couple of months it’s been brilliant to see the time and energy that has gone into the submissions, and I’ve been hugely impressed by the quality and ambition of the bids.

“It’s clear that the game is united in wanting to take the women’s professional game forward. I’m energised about what comes next, for the counties themselves, for the players, for fans and for everyone who wants to see women’s cricket continue its accelerated trajectory.”

The ECB has put £5million per year of new funding into the women’s domestic set-up, rising to £8million when Yorkshire and Glamorgan come aboard.

It estimates a potential increase of 80 per cent in the number of professional female players.

There will be no promotion or relegation between 2025 and 2028, allowing the new three-tier system to bed in.

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