The ECB has sent a second major overhaul challenge down to the 18 first-class counties in a revamp of its women’s playing structure in October 2019.
Tender invitations for one of eight women’s professional “Tier 1 Clubs” are being sent to the counties and the MCC on Thursday. An expanded marketing of the domestic women’s game will shift ownership, responsibility and governance to the clubs.
By aligning teams more closely with existing counties – and their men’s teams – from the beginning of the 2025 season, the ECB aims to address an identity crisis affecting some of the regional teams.
The ECB announced its ‘Inspiring Generations’ strategy for 2020-2024, aimed at making cricket a gender-balanced sport, in October 2019.
The hope is that aligning with the counties would help grow audiences, boost teams’ visibility and offer the women’s teams a sense of stability and inclusion, which would attract sponsors to the counties themselves.
The newly configured teams will compete in a three-tier women’s domestic structure and are expected to compete for trophies in the Vitality T20 Blast and Metro Bank One Day Cup.
The ECB has also invested approximately £1.3 million yearly into each of the eight Tier 1 teams, a portion of which will be designated for player salaries, sports science and medicine and talent pathways.
The deadline for submitting bids for Tier 1 teams is March 10. The make-up of Tiers 2 and 3 is expected to be finalized by September. Between the start of 2025 and end of 2028 those tiers will remain “closed” with no promotion or relegation.