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Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 15:30 UK

New-look English Twenty20 agreed

Middlesex and Lancashire in Twenty20 action this season
Middlesex and Lancashire in Twenty20 action this season

English cricket is to be given a major overhaul with a new Twenty20 English Premier League to start in 2010.

The EPL will have two divisions of 10 teams featuring the 18 existing counties plus two overseas teams.

A radical proposal by David Stewart and Keith Bradshaw, which would have left out half of the counties, was rejected by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The Pro40 will be scrapped after 2009, allowing for a total revamp of club cricket in England.

The board also agreed the 2010 season would include a 50-over competition and 16 County Championship matches in a two-division structure.

The EPL is expected to feature promotion and relegation and a finals weekend which, according to BBC sports editor Mihir Bose, could generate 60m a year for the game.

If Twenty20 cricket is managed carefully it can bankroll cricket for decades

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
"It means English cricketers, for so long the poor relations of Premier League footballers, will be earning much more money," said Bose.

The introduction of the EPL follows the successful debut of the Indian Premier League, which has stimulated huge interest and offers the ECB the potential of attracting more television revenue.

The lucrative IPL and its unsanctioned rival, the Indian Cricket League (ICL), has seen Twenty20 cricket dominate the cricket headlines in recent months.

In order not to be left behind, England agreed a five-year deal worth 50m with businessman Sir Allen Stanford where they will play a winner-takes-all Twenty20 match each year in the Caribbean.

And in June the ECB along with the Indian, Australian and South African governing bodies also unveiled plans for a Twenty20 Champions League tournament.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke explains the shake-up

"Broadcasters in this country and in Asia are interested in county sides - they are not interested in made-up sides," ECB chairman Giles Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live, explaining why cricket's ruling body had veered clear of a franchise-based competition similar to the IPL.

The latest overhaul of the English game is based on market research that suggested fans wanted to watch more Twenty20 cricket.

The EPL will be staged in June, while there will be a Twenty20 League, replacing the Pro40, in July, August and September, with games to be staged primarily on Friday nights.

English counties will have the opportunity to qualify for an international Champions League via a new version of the already existing domestic Twenty20 Cup.

"How much 20 overs cricket do people want to watch?" said BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.

"We don't know who the overseas teams will be, but one might be Sir Allen Stanford's and we don't know how many overseas players each county will be allowed to have.

"I suspect there will be four overseas players allowed in each squad to freshen it up.


"There is a danger of having two Twenty20 competitions, looking much the same, trundling along next to each other.

"If Twenty20 cricket is managed carefully it can bankroll cricket for decades. But if it is flogged to death it will all to quickly disappear. This cuts it pretty fine."

Lancashire chief executive Jim Coombes questioned whether two Twenty20 competitions were necessary.

"I don't know if people are going to be able to differentiate between the two competitions," said Coombes.

Although the ECB rejected Stewart and Bradshaw's franchise idea, it did take on board some of their funding proposals.

Surrey chairman Stewart said: "These are extremely exciting and satisfying proposals for the future of domestic cricket in England and Wales. I am delighted to support them.

"They incorporate some excellent ideas and Keith Bradshaw (MCC chief executive) and I were delighted to be able to submit our ideas as part of the decision making process and to build on the robust structure proposed by ECB as a result of detailed consultations undertaken."

see also
Cumbes applauds ECB Twenty20 plan
16 Jul 08 |  Lancashire
England bag 50m Twenty20 bonanza
11 Jun 08 |  Cricket
Stanford plans global expansion
12 Jun 08 |  Cricket

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