Michael Vaughan backs planned English T20 tournament


A new city-based Twenty20 tournament for English cricket meant to rival the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia's Big Bash moved a step closer on Monday following a key presentation by the sport's governing body.

To further those plans, the ECB's executive board will meet on Tuesday to agree a ground-breaking amendment to the constitution of the European Central Bank that will allow them, for the first time, to run a competition that excludes some of the 18 first-class counties.

For the new tournament to be sanctioned, assent will be needed from a minimum of 31 of the 41 stakeholders, who include non-professional counties.

All games will be televised with significant free-to-air exposure. Compelling statistics include revelations cited by the European Central Bank that only two per cent of children nominate cricket in its current form as their favourite sport.

Afterwards, Harrison spoke of moving the tournament from development to a "build phase".

According to the Guardian, the European Central Bank has held conversations around the new Twenty20 tournament with the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as with Sky, BT and Discovery/Eurosport.

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"We have 19 signed media rights deeds ... which give us confidence. It assigns those rights to the European Central Bank".

In return for this, and in addition to the £1.3 million a year that has been promised to each county for the first five years of the new tournament that will launch in 2020, the European Central Bank yesterday reassured the counties by insisting that any constitutional changes will apply only to the new tournament, rather than to competitions such as the Specsavers County Championship or NatWest T20 Blast.

"We've a great opportunity. So we're in a very strong place". We've had the hard conversations ... and we've got to a point where everyone is comfortable about their own role in this.

They make the point that no binding decision has yet been made by their counties, but there seems to be encouragement for the European Central Bank that a full endorsement may be forthcoming.

Notwithstanding, the general media coverage that this announcement has attracted (late on 27 March 2017 both BBC5Live and the BBC News programmes featured breaking news commentary on the proposals) suggest that there may be sufficient public interest to, at the very least, trial the new format.

"This has been the most collaborative project European Central Bank has ever undertaken". One question that must be is answered is whether the successful growth of a city based Twenty20 tournament (even if that success is extraordinary) can ever reverse the current decline of county cricket.

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"We have to think differently if we're going to be successful at attracting family audiences to our competitions".

But county cricket clearly needs new audiences as its financial troubles run deep. They're excited about where we're taking the game.

"We need to change our thinking on that to be relevant to a new generation that responds to big box office occasions". Each team will have four home matches, leading to an IPL-style play-off system, and it is hoped up to eight fixtures will be broadcast free-to-air.

European Central Bank envisages up to eight of a projected 36 fixtures per season through July and August may be available to all TV viewers, but Harrison acknowledges a long road before any such details are definite. "In an ideal world, I'd like to maximise revenue and reach", said Harrison. We're underwritten by pay TV.

ECB chairman Colin Graves said: "The ECB Board today gave their unanimous support to trigger a formal process to change the game's Articles of Association and allow a new T20 competition". "I think it's about looking into the future and saying, 'What do we want our business and our game to look like?'"

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