New Twenty20 cricket tournament could land Derbyshire a £1.5m windfall

SIX-HIT -- Wes Durston smashes a six for Derbyshire Falcons in the NatWest T20 Blast competition, which is hugely popular with cricket fans.
SIX-HIT -- Wes Durston smashes a six for Derbyshire Falcons in the NatWest T20 Blast competition, which is hugely popular with cricket fans.

Exciting plans for a new Twenty20 cricket tournament could trigger a £1.5 million windfall for Derbyshire.

In one of the most radical shake-ups in the history of the domestic game, the tournament, to be launched in 2018, would comprise eight teams carrying the names of cities, rather than counties, up and down the UK.

But each of the 18 county clubs would share in its potential financial gains, acquired through television rights, marketing and sponsorship. And early estimates suggest that could equate to as much as £1.5 million, which would be a godsend to a club like Derbyshire.

News of the plans has been broken by the ‘Daily Telegraph’ in exclusive stories by the paper’s cricket correspondent, Nick Hoult.

Full details have yet to be released because talks and negotiations between the ECB and the counties are still taking place. A high-profile meeting between the bosses of 18 counties, including Derbyshire, and officials of the ECB was scheduled to take place this week when it was hoped to gain consensus on change. A two-thirds majority vote is needed for the project to be ratified.

Derbyshire were unable to comment on the plans when chief executive Simon Storey was asked for his reaction on Tuesday. The ECB has insisted that all parties sign non-disclosure agreements while talks are ongoing.

However, Hoult says the ECB firmly believes the competition would “revitalise the domestic game and help lift failing participation levels”. “They also hope it would help them to attract a family audience and raise the profile of cricket,” he added.

T20 cricket has been a huge hit in the UK since it was first introduced in 2003. Derbyshire attract easily their biggest crowds at NatWest T20 Blast matches involving the Falcons through the summer.

It is understood that the new tournament would not interfere with the Blast, but should increase interest in 20-over cricket among the general public even further, particularly as there are plans for matches to be shown on terrestrial TV, as well as by satellite broadcasters, such as Sky Sports.

ECB officials have long been anxious to create a tournament that matches the profile of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Big Bash in Australia.

The eight teams would be based in cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Cardiff and Southampton. Players would be recruited by the teams via an IPL-style auction, and matches would be played at Test match grounds in a month-long extravaganza at the height of summer.

TV experts believe the competition would command broadcasting rights worth about £35 million per year, far higher than if it involved all 18 counties.

However, it is understood that the counties have also been presented with alternative options to consider.