The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it will increase investment, introduce a three-tiered competition and adopt a new ownership model as part of efforts to help women's professional cricket reach its full potential.
Under the plans, the existing eight women’s Regional teams (currently hosted by FCCs in a collaborative Regional Model) will evolve to become eight women’s professional ‘Tier 1 Clubs’ – each owned, governed, and operated by an individual First Class County (FCC) or Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
The 18 FCCs and MCC have therefore each now received an invitation to tender to become a women’s Tier 1 Club and have until 10 March 2024 to submit a bid.
This tender process represents the first step to evolve the women’s professional game structure. Key aims of this work include:
- Ensuring stronger ownership, accountability, and governance to support the growth of women’s cricket.
- Creating scale and visibility for the women’s game to accelerate team and player fandom.
- Establishing a more compelling platform to commercialise women’s cricket, while enhancing existing arrangements for FCCs with commercial partners who want to sponsor aligned male and female sports properties.
- Providing long-term stability and a deeper sense of belonging for the women’s teams and female players.
Under the current plans, for the duration of the 2025-2028 seasons all three tiers will be 'closed', with no promotion or relegation.
ECB Chief Executive Officer Richard Gould said: “Since 2020, through the advent of the women’s Regional Model, we have seen significant progress in the professionalisation of women’s cricket, but we are still only just scratching the surface of its potential.
“To continue moving forward, and to make cricket a gender-balanced sport, we need a change in the ownership model and governance structure underpinning the women’s professional game.
“This invitation to tender and the uplift in funding therefore represents our next step: a step that will embed the ownership of our eight women’s professional teams within the game, drive accountability, and elevate the status of women’s domestic cricket to enable it to go further, grow faster and reach its full potential.”