Umpires were paid three times more to officiate in the men’s Hundred this summer than in the women’s Hundred, the Guardian can reveal.
On-field and TV umpires in the women’s Hundred were paid a fee of £300 to officiate in each group‑stage match, while those tasked with officiating in men’s group fixtures were paid £1,000 a game. For the women’s final, umpires received £1,000; yet in the men’s the fee was £2,500.
The news comes just days after the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the England women’s team would receive the same match fees in internationals as the England men. However, there is no evidence that any similar move is afoot within umpiring. An ECB spokesperson said in a statement that the board is “working hard to secure a pipeline of women coming into umpiring”, and that it is committed to “increasing pay for umpires who officiate in women’s professional cricket ahead of the 2024 season”.
Although women can umpire in the men’s Hundred, the disparity disproportionately affects female umpires. In 2023 just one woman, Sue Redfern, officiated in a men’s game, while seven of the umpires in the women’s Hundred were female.
Additionally, all bar one of the 34 umpires who the ECB employs full-time to umpire in elite English cricket are male. Redfern is again the exception, having become the first female appointee to the panel when it was reconstituted in March 2022. Full-time umpires on the ECB’s professional umpires’ team, the panel which officiates in elite men’s cricket, can expect to earn in the region of £40,000 a year, with any match fees classed as additional earnings.
By contrast, umpires in domestic and international women’s cricket are granted only one-year retainers, currently worth between £2,500 and £4,000. Match fees in the women’s 50‑over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and 20-over Charlotte Edwards Cup are set at just £80 a game.
In 2022, the retainers were set at between £5,000 and £7,500, but the Guardian has learned that in April this year the retainers were halved with no notice.
One Stage 3-qualified umpire, who did not wish to be named, told the Guardian: “Dropping the retainer by half is a big deal for us. For a lot of the girls that was a wake-up call to go: ‘We don’t know if we can continue to do this.’
“The ECB say that they want more female umpires, and that they want to encourage people to get into umpiring, but they don’t make it easy.
“There needs to be a recognition that a lot of umpires that are doing women’s cricket either have jobs or study, and ultimately have to balance the two, and try to do that successfully. If we were given a bit more money, it would make our lives easier.”
Many female umpires have to take holiday or unpaid leave from work in order to be able to officiate in matches. According to one umpire who officiates in women’s internationals, there is also a disparity in uniform provision and expenses payments.
“For men’s matches, all uniform is provided before the season starts in April. For women’s matches, we’re still asking for stuff in May and it’s not arrived yet,” the umpire said.
“Because the men’s umpires are employees, they have access to an expenses system that the ECB uses, which means they get access to their expenses within a week after they’ve spent them.
“We don’t have access to that because we’re self-employed, so we have to put in an invoice and it takes a month for us to get our expenses back. Nothing is managed in the same way.”
The Hundred is touted by the ECB as helping to “drive greater gender parity in sport”, yet the board has previously come under fire for the vast inequality between salaries in the Hundred, which range from £7,500 to £31,250 for the women’s competition, and £30,000 to £125,000 for the men’s. Additionally the ECB’s 2022 gender pay-gap report showed an existing pay gap of 44% within the organisation. Women’s cricket umpires are excluded from this data as they are not classed as ECB employees.
The ECB was also heavily criticised in the recent Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket report for pay disparities between men’s and women’s cricket and has been tasked with equalising pay in domestic cricket by 2029 and international cricket in 2030. The report, however, did not discuss the salaries of match officials.
An ECB spokesperson said: “We recognise there are improvements for us to make with regards to remuneration for officials across the women’s professional game, and that there are wider challenges pertaining to the women’s professional game, many of which were highlighted in the Icec report.
“We are working hard to secure a pipeline of women coming into umpiring, as well as other areas of cricket including coaching and leadership, but we know that there is still a huge amount of work to be done.
“We expect to see more female umpires progressing to all levels of the game in future years, following the establishment of a new officiating pathway.”