Tuesday, September 29, 1998 Published at 21:12 GMT 22:12 UK
MCC gets Lottery green light
Women will now be allowed into the hallowed Long Room
Sports Minister Tony Banks says Marylebone Cricket Club, which voted to end its 211-year-old ban on women members, can now apply for National Lottery cash.
"I'm quite certain in due course that they will get it," he said.
The club, based at Lord's cricket ground in London, was prevented from applying for Lottery cash because its men-only rule broke the Sports Council's equal rights policy.
The MCC committee, fearing that the male-only policy would embarrass the club during next year's World Cup and cost it vital corporate sponsorship and Lottery funding, then embarked on a campaign to persuade members of the virtues of allowing women to join.
The ballot on Monday resulted in 9,394 votes (69.8%) for change, with 4,072 (30.2%) against.
But no immediate bids had been prepared, he said.
He said: "There is a great cricketing interest among children with over 330,000 playing in schools around the country - we want to develop our existing schools programme with coaching and special roadshows."
As well as clearing the way for women to enter the hallowed Long Room at Lord's, the vote means 10 women will be made honorary members by the spring, and six becoming honorary members each year in following years.
Other women wanting to become members will have to join thousands of men on the waiting list - currently 18 years long.
The vote was welcomed by MCC committee members and leading women cricketers including former England women's captain Rachael Heyhoe Flint who said it was a "wonderful day for women".
However, women would not be completely immersed in cricket's headquarters.
One bar in the pavilion at Lord's will be kept for men only "on an experimental basis".
Around 3,600 women, 374,000 primary school girls and 83,000 secondary school girls play cricket in England and Wales.