Essex to join Middlesex in voting against new ECB Twenty20 tournament

Abhinav Kini
Essex cricket

Essex will become the second English cricket county to vote against the proposed city-based Twenty20 tournament by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The new tournament set for 2020 is expected to feature eight new regional teams who will play 36 games over a 38-day period in summer.

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The ECB are in the process of changing its Articles of Association to allow for the introduction of the T20 tournament as current rules state that all 18 first class counties must be included in any new competition.

ECB chief Tom Harrison said last month that the counties will instead become shareholders for the tournament and will each take home £1.3m per year from broadcasting rights in an effort to "future-proof" the game.

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According to CricBuzz, however, Essex will formally announce their decision to vote against the article change later this week after a committee met last week and unanimously agreed on their stance.

They will be joining Middlesex, who as of now, are the only county to publicly oppose the amendment changes with chairman Mike O'Farrell claiming it not only poses a financial risk, but could reduce the county's status.

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"Whilst Middlesex is fully supportive of the creation of a new T20 tournament to drive the future of the game, we are unable to support this proposal at the current time," O'Farrell said, as quoted on CricBuzz. "Middlesex has a unique position in playing at a ground that is likely to be a host venue at the tournament, yet not benefiting from the revenues associated with that status."

"Therefore, the financial impact on Middlesex is still very uncertain and contains great risks to our current revenue streams. Additionally, the current governance of the ECB means that this article change creates a significant risk that counties that are not host venues for the new tournament may, in the future, be downgraded both in status and in revenue terms."

It's a sentiment echoed by Essex chairman John Faragher, who in February, spoke about the side effects of the deal.

"We are not a wealthy county but we are financially very stable and that's because we operate within our budgets," Faragher said. "Sure, an extra 1 million a year is very appealing."

"But what happens when this competition means you suddenly become a minor county? You're going to lose sponsors, you're going to lose advertising, you're going to lose members to this other competition."

The ECB will require a three-quarters majority vote (at least 31 votes) from its 41 members, including the 18 first class counties, to enact the amendment change.

With the likes of Yorkshire, Somerset, Derbyshire and Leicestershire already voting for the measure, it is expected to be a formality despite Essex and Middlesex's opposition.

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