ECB announces eight counties to host professional women’s team from 2025

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Lancashire will be one of eight counties to host a professional women’s team from 2025

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced the eight counties that will host professional women’s teams as part of a major restructure of the domestic game from 2025.

Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire have all been awarded Tier 1 status.

Glamorgan and Yorkshire join them in 2027 as part of an expansion.

The ECB also intends to add a further two teams in 2029.

In 2025, the eight selected counties will replace the regions that have competed in the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in recent years.

The plans will see the creation of a three-tiered domestic competition structure which the ECB says could lead to an 80% increase in professional women’s players in England and Wales by 2029.

There will be £8m of new funding every year for the women’s domestic game by 2027, taking annual investment to about £19m.

Glamorgan and Yorkshire will receive additional funding from 2025 to run their own ‘Tier 1 standard’ talent pathways in preparation for joining the top tier in 2027.

The location of the two teams to be added in 2029 has not been decided.

“Through this process we’ve seen a huge appetite from first class counties to have a women’s professional team, and a real commitment to growing women’s and girls’ cricket in this country,” said ECB chief executive officer Richard Gould.

“More professional teams means more women able to make a career out of being a cricketer, more role models to inspire future generations, and more of the country having a women’s professional team to follow nearby.”

ECB director of women’s professional game, Beth Barrett-Wild, added: “It’s clear that the game is united in wanting to take the women’s professional game forward, and in wanting to produce commercially vibrant teams and competitions that excite fans and showcase the quality of our professional players.”

All 18 first-class counties and the MCC were invited to tender to become a women’s Tier 1 club, with the “vast majority” submitting bids.

Counties not successful will be asked to be “in a process to determine the composition of Tier 2 and Tier 3” with the outcome to be confirmed by September 2024.

There will be no promotion or relegation between tiers from 2025 until 2028.

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