ECB chairman Clarke has played down the plan for a new Twenty20 event
The two men who are proposing an English Twenty20 rival to the Indian Premier League have defended the revolutionary proposal.
Keith Bradshaw, the secretary of the MCC, and Surrey chairman David Stewart have come up with lucrative £50m plan.
The traditional counties would be replaced by nine franchises, who would take part in a 57-match tournament.
"We make no apologies for preparing this board discussion paper," a statement issued by them said.
"We strongly believe the idea of an English Twenty20 tournament, taking the best from the Indian Premier League and combining it with the strengths of the English game, is worthy of considerable debate and discussion."
The matter will be discussed at an England and Wales Cricket Board meeting on Tuesday but after it was leaked, the proposal was widely criticised.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke played down the proposal saying: "There has been a lot of debate and discussion over what is the most optimal format for the summer - what will generate the most money, what spectators want to watch, how it will help the England cricket team.
"I'm firmly in favour of 18 counties playing at their county grounds. I'm not remotely interested in the reduction of counties."
The Bradshaw-Stewart statement added: "We are naturally disappointed that the paper has been leaked before the ECB board can discuss it.
"It was the intention of the paper to stimulate discussion and if the idea is welcomed by the board we want to engage all the counties in a consultative process.
"There already has been speculation about whether such a tournament can generate extra revenue for cricket.
"We are aware of significant interest from potential financial backers and are confident that a tournament can generate considerable revenues for all 18 counties and the grass roots of the game."
The tournament is supported by Lancashire, Hampshire and Surrey as well as the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club).
It would be scheduled for each June and July from 2010 onwards and last for 25 days.
Hampshire are one of the counties at the heart of the new structure and a club statement said: "The intelligent and well-considered proposal for such a new Twenty20 competition has been prepared in response to ECB's recent invitation for submissions.
"The proposal demonstrates significant benefits for all stakeholders in English cricket, with minimal disruption to the traditional domestic structure. Hampshire Cricket fully supports the proposal."
Like the IPL, the new Twenty20 tournament would adopt a bidding process to attract the biggest stars of the international stage.
It is also suggested that each squad would consist of 12 home-grown players, of which three must be under 23, with a salary cap of £1.5m.
It's a radical suggestion - but it's purely that at the moment
BBC Radio 5 Live cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
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.
"This tournament would effectively abolish the long-established county structure," explained BBC Radio 5 Live cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew.
"The smaller counties will see this as the beginning of the end.
"The question is, will cricket lovers in this country who have been brought up following counties go to watch nominally Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, north London, south London and the list goes on?
"But the most controversial aspect is that the event is not going to be owned by the ECB, it will be a new company in which the ECB would be merely a stakeholder.
"It's a radical suggestion - but it's purely that at the moment."
The ECB led the way in the quickfire form of the game by introducing a domestic Twenty20 competition in 2003.