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Yorkshire snubbed by ECB over hosting ‘tier one’ women’s cricket side

Yorkshire snubbed by ECB over hosting 'tier one' women's cricket side
Yorkshire snubbed by ECB over hosting 'tier one' women's cricket side

Yorkshire have missed out on hosting one of eight “tier one” teams being launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board next year as part of its radical reboot of domestic women’s cricket.

The ECB invited applications from the first-class counties for eight places in a fully professional “tier one” earlier this year, with 16 of the 18 first-class counties throwing their hat in the ring. Worcestershire and Derbyshire were the two who did not.

In 2025, the eight county teams will replace the regions, which have been ECB-finded and competed in the T20 Charlotte Edwards Cup and 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in recent years. The desire is to move the women’s domestic game from being a purely “performance” product designed to produce players for the national team into a commercial entity that fans want to follow, by aligning it with established country brands from the men’s game.

Yorkshire are expected to be the biggest county to miss out, with Durham preferred in the northern region. Middlesex, and therefore Lord’s, have also been overlooked, with Essex selected, while Somerset have beaten Gloucestershire to a team. All three of Yorkshire, Middlesex and Gloucestershire have endured tough times off the field.

The ECB added that the strength of the bids would see tier one expanded from 2027, with Yorkshire and Glamorgan the nominated counties to be added that year. Two more as yet unnamed teams could be added from 2029. Counties did not know about the expansion plans when they submitted their bids, but the news will offset some of the disappointment for those missing out.

The aim will be to have more than 180 fully professional women’s players by 2029. By 2027, £19 million will be invested in the women’s domestic game each year.

Telegraph Sport can reveal that Durham, Essex, Somerset, Hampshire, Surrey, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Lancashire have been put forward as “tier one” teams for ratification at an ECB board meeting on Wednesday with a formal announcement expected over the next couple of days.

For Durham, this represents a big step towards possible integration into the Hundred if the competition expands over the next few years.

Meanwhile Yorkshire had hoped hosting a “tier one” women’s team would help the club rebuild after a damaging period that has seen the club losing millions of pounds and had its reputation battered following the Azeem Rafiq racism affair.

The Middlesex bid had the “full support” of the MCC and was an opportunity to provide some good news for its members at a time when the club has been dogged by a toxic row with its former chief executive. Richard Goatley. The MCC did not submit a formal bid of their own.

Kent had hoped to tie the women’s team in with setting up its revamped ground at Beckenham, but have also missed out, as have Sussex, another county with a proud record of developing women’s players, such as the great wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor.

The ECB held interviews with the counties last month, with a panel including Kelly Simmons, former director of the women’s professional game at the Football Association, and Maggie Murphy, the chief executive of Lewes FC, helping them judge each bid.

As revealed by Telegraph Sport in December, the ECB will invest around £1.3 million per year into each of the  “tier one” teams as part of their “Project Darwin” overhaul of the women’s game. The costs for the selected counties will rise across the first five years, from around £400,000 in 2025 to more than £1.1 million in 2029.

The first-class counties that missed out on a “tier one” team will be placed in a semi-professional “tier two” (with no promotion or relegation initially), and in time an amateur “tier three” would be introduced, playing a role like that of the National (formerly Minor) Counties in men’s cricket, providing a stepping stone between the recreational and professional game.

The move is in part a response to the ICEC (Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket) report, which was delivered last June and said women in cricket were treated as “second class citizens”.

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