Cricket’s Champions League could soon be back on the agenda following the decision to rubber-stamp the introduction of an eight-team city-based franchise model in England from 2020.
The original Champions League – the brainchild of cricket’s governing bodies in India, Australia and South Africa – was first introduced in 2008 but was eventually shelved in 2014.
The last involvement by English counties came two years before the tournament’s final edition, with the ECB pulling up the drawbridge in an effort to maintain the primacy of the County Championship, which generally clashed with a competition played as the English season reached its climax.
Somerset were the only side to successfully make it through from the group stages to the semi-finals back in 2011.
The ongoing success of the Big Bash, Indian Premier League and a host of other franchise-based T20 tournaments around the globe, though, has kept the prospect of a re-launched competition very much alive.
And the chief executive of the Melbourne Renegades, Stuart Coventry, believes that the breaking of tradition in English cricket would make its re-introduction a logical step.
He also argues that English involvement would make attracting sponsors for the competition an easier prospect than had previously been the case.
“With the introduction of the new ECB’s City Franchise competition, a Global T20 Champions League annual event makes sense with the increased profile of domestic T20 tournaments worldwide,” he tells The Independent.
“The tournament could be marketed as the “World Series” of T20 and create prize-money value for Clubs.
“If the World Series model can be held in an appropriate time period it would result in renewed fan interest and broadcaster support long-term.”
With the new city-based competition still three years off there’s still plenty of time to come up with a format and timescale that would suit all parties, although one county chairman has told The Independent that the main sticking point could be player availability, with so many cricketers now representing more than one franchise in an increasingly congested T20 calendar.
Altaaf Kazi, the head of media and communications, at Cricket South Africa believes that it’s ‘premature’ to discuss a new Champions League given the three-year hiatus before the introduction of England’s new eight-team competition.
With falling attendances in Test cricket globally, however, a Champions League organised by the ICC could open up a much-needed new revenue stream for world cricket’s governing body. Qualification for a new competition could also provide additional excitement and motivation for those sides competing in already established global T20 tournaments.