Northants overlooked by ECB as a host for new Tier 1 women's team

The County Ground will not be home to one of the new Tier 1 women's teamsThe County Ground will not be home to one of the new Tier 1 women's teams
The County Ground will not be home to one of the new Tier 1 women's teams
Northants have missed out on being named a host team for one of English cricket's eight new professional women's teams being created as part of a major restructure of the domestic game by the England & Wales Cricket Board.

Northants submitted a bid in March to become one of the eight counties to be awarded Tier 1 status, but they have been overlooked by the England & Wales Cricket Board.

The counties awarded Tier 1 status from 2025 are Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire.

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In addition to those eight counties, Glamorgan and Yorkshire will host Tier 1 teams from 2027, when the new competition will be expanded to 10 teams.

There are also plans for two further counties to be made Tier 1 for the 2029 campaign, but no decision has been made on who they will be as yet.

Northants will now have to go through a process, which will include the National Counties, to determine the composition of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 competitions in the new-look women’s domestic competition structure.

The outcome of this process is set to be confirmed by September 2024, with the new domestic structure set to be launched in full for the 2025 season.

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For the duration of the seasons from 2025 to 2028, all three tiers will be ‘closed’, with no promotion or relegation.

The news will come as a big blow to Northants, who this year have also announced plans for a proposed new cricket centre in Moulton.

ECB chief executive Richard Gould said: “Through this process we’ve seen a huge appetite from First Class Counties to have a women’s professional team, and a real commitment to growing women’s and girls’ cricket in this country.

“I’d like to congratulate those counties who have been successful in their bids. I’m also delighted that in light of the support we have seen and the strength of the bids we have considered, we can accelerate our plans, including new top tier professional teams at Glamorgan and Yorkshire by 2027 with and a further two being introduced by 2029.

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“More professional teams means more women able to make a career out of being a cricketer, more role models to inspire future generations, and more of the country having a women’s professional team to follow nearby."

And he also had words of sympathy for Northants and the other counties that have missed out, insisting they still have a big part to play in the growth of the women's game.

“I recognise today’s announcement will also be disappointing to those who haven’t been successful at this stage," said Gould.

"But with the new three-tier structure we are introducing, there is still a huge opportunity for them to compete in the other tiers so together we can all realise the potential of women’s domestic cricket.”

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ECB director of the women’s professional game Beth Barrett-Wild added: “At the start of this tender process we challenged the First Class Counties to show us their vision for the women’s professional game and to demonstrate their desire and commitment to becoming one of our professional Tier 1 clubs.

“Over the last couple of months it’s been brilliant to see the time and energy that has gone into the submissions, and I’ve been hugely impressed by the quality and ambition of the bids.

“The decision to select two additional counties – Glamorgan and Yorkshire – as the ninth and 10th Tier 1 Clubs by 2027, and our stated aim to move to 12 teams in Tier 1 by 2029, is testament to the strength of the bids and the pace at which we all want to move to effect change.

“It’s clear that the game is united in wanting to take the women’s professional game forward, and in wanting to produce commercially vibrant teams and competitions that excite fans and showcase the quality of our professional players.

“I’m energised about what comes next, for the counties themselves, for the players, for fans and for everyone who wants to see women’s cricket continue its accelerated trajectory.”

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