Somerset Approve Proposed Change to ECB Articles of Association

The General Committee of Somerset County Cricket Club has unanimously approved a key proposed change to the ECB Articles of Association which, if similarly accepted by the required majority of Counties, will pave the way for the introduction of a new T20 tournament in England and Wales.

It is important to note that the new competition, whilst being the most controversial initiative, is not a standalone one. It is part of the games Cricket Unleashed strategy which contains several separate but linked initiatives designed to reboot and expand the sport in England and Wales. The other plans include: All Stars cricket for 5-8 year olds, the U19 Cup competition, South Asian engagement, Women’s cricket and substantial support for Chance to Shine.

Somerset Chairman, Andy Nash said: “After considerable discussion and consultation with Members, the General Committee have voted to unanimously support the new ECB proposals. There was a clear understanding that a new tournament offers a number of positive opportunities for the game as part of the Cricket Unleashed strategy which will help to reconnect cricket with the wider British public, return an element of cricket to free to air television, grow a bigger spectator audience, drive levels of participation for boys and girls, whilst also underpinning the financial future of cricket. Somerset has always sought to avoid a myopic view of the cricketing landscape and our decision is intended to reflect the best interests of the game as a whole.

It would however be remiss not to record the considerable unease and concern of our General Committee in regard to some potential longer term implications of this decision. There are clear risks but ones that on balance we consider worth taking.

It is vital from our perspective that the blue riband Specsavers County Championship is nurtured and protected, the Royal London One-Day Cup is well-supported and that the NatWest T20 Blast continues to expand and prosper; it is commercially essential and is our most effective driver of growth in the region we serve. ECB have made clear assurances in this regard.

In addition it is essential that the governance of the new T20 tournament is completely under the joint ownership and control of the 18 First Class Counties and MCC. It will be the Counties own tournament which is very different to how it was originally positioned two years ago.

We further expect that Somerset, as a conditional Category B ground, will be provided with the opportunity to bid to stage matches in the new tournament, as well as being allowed to continue bidding for ODI and IT20 cricket in the future.

In sum, we are not signing a ‘blank cheque’ for the new T20 competition and we expect the ECB to continue to engage with us and protect the interests of all non-test match Clubs as the work continues to develop the new competition. In short, Somerset wants to see 18 thriving Counties and not an elite group of 8 with 10 stragglers trailing in their wake.

Cricket in England and Wales has been through a prolonged and at times bruising debate about the future. The game’s 18 First Class Counties and MCC are a very mixed garden, so we only rarely glimpse universal agreement to significant proposals.  If, as we expect, the new T20 is approved by the wider game we will put our shoulder to the wheel and do our utmost to make the new competition a roaring success and play our part in ensuring that this great game of ours flourishes in the future.”

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