Chief executive Hugh Morris presented the facts and proposals from ECB for a change to the domestic structure in England and Wales at a member's forum at The SSE SWALEC last night.
The proposals seek to increase the exposure and reach for cricket, by providing more money for the game at grassroots and professional levels and to attracting new audiences and grow participation.
The most favoured proposal is an eight-team city based tournament that will overlay the current season structure - this second, newly created, T20 competition will attract the world's best players in a block of matches during the summer holidays, supported by new broadcast and sponsorship arrangements to imitate the success of other T20 tournaments around the globe.
With a number of counties keen to host one of these eight new teams and change to the domestic structure necessary to accommodate the new competition, there were many questions about the proposals during the forum from members, but the overall response was positive towards the proposals. Hugh answered a number of questions regarding the new city-based tournament on the night, summarised below:
How convinced are you that the new city based T20 competition will happen and Glamorgan will be a host venue?
Hugh Morris: We’ve said from the word go that Glamorgan has been very interested in learning about the proposals from ECB. The idea of using a new city based team to help drive participation is really strong and the potential of increased revenue into the club is very attractive. Glamorgan is really well placed to host one of the teams.
If there’s people who don’t come to watch Glamorgan play T20 now, why would they come and watch a different team based at the same stadium?
HM: All the research done by ECB and what we’ve seen in Australia with the Big Bash where 90,000 were crammed into the MCG and the Adelaide Oval had over 55,000 turn up there is a really compelling story and I think it will excite people, particularly young people, and that’s the target audience we want to get into grounds.
We’ve a loyal fan base in cricket. Nearly 1 million people each year watch our domestic and international competitions, but there are nearly 25 million through England and Wales who follow sport and we need to be able to tap into those people to inspire them to choose cricket over other past times.
If there are 8 teams are you convinced one will be based in Cardiff?
HM: We’ve got a really strong case. We’ve a great ground here that hosts up to 16,000 people. Cardiff, outside of London is the capital city of sport in the UK. It’s used to hosting major events each year and we’re used to hosting some of the biggest games in cricket, including two Ashes Tests. I believe that we as a sporting nation would get behind a city based team here.
Is there room for both Cardiff and Bristol?
HM: We’ll wait and see but we’ve got 3 million people throughout all of Wales and if we can capture the hearts and minds of those people we’ll be well placed to host one of these teams
How is it envisaged these teams will be made up?
HM: There’s lots of detail to come out, but the assumption is 14 players in each squad, three of those will be overseas players and there will be an auction or draft system for the rest of the squad, so the prospect of Gayle, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn back here is really appealing and will inspire a lot of people to watch the games.
And in terms of star power is three enough?
HM: Yes absolutely because the other team will also have three of the top players in the world too, plus the potential that some England players will be able to play some part in the competition will be a really good thing.
How do you clear the schedule for this event?
HM: That’s one of the challenges that the ECB has to deal with, but the end of July and into August would give a three-week window for the competition into the school holidays. There’s a real focus for the competition on getting young people into the grounds.
Would Glamorgan be playing elsewhere then?
HM: That’s in the detail we need to get into and I guess that’s a possibility, but we’ll have to wait and see.
In terms of crowd potential what would the ECB be looking to get into these games?
HM: In Australia they’ve filled out the biggest grounds in the world, so we’d want to make sure we fill our stadium.
How do you then market the rest of the cricket Glamorgan plays if you are saying this new competition is the one to watch?
HM: There’s a real opportunity to have a city based team here and Glamorgan CCC. A lot of large organisations have more than one product and they brand and market them accordingly to different people and audience segments and we’d have that opportunity. We’ve a lot of latent support in Wales for Glamorgan CCC and the opportunity to have two teams marketed to different people will provide an opportunity for more people through Wales to enjoy the game.
Is 2018 too soon for it to be on the cards?
HM: We don’t know, it’s all to do with the broadcasting arrangements ECB will negotiate and that’s something that’s in their hands.
It’s intended to provide a better cash flow, we’ve seen the penalties Durham have faced, what did you think when you saw that?
HM: We found ourselves in a not dissimilar financial position not so long ago and consequently understand the challenges they have been through. The game as a whole has got between 120-150 million pounds of debt which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The proposals for a city based tournament has the potential to go a long way to helping the problem.
The amount of incremental income that could be brought into the game from the city based teams is significant and would be a game-changer for Glamorgan CCC.