Eight women’s professional domestic teams confirmed for 2025 with plans for four more by 2029 | Cricket News

Yorkshire will have to wait until 2027 to take part in the England and Wales
Cricket Board’s new ‘Tier 1’ revamp of the women’s professional game, after
eight other counties were selected to lead the way.

Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire have been chosen as hosts, with the governing body abolishing the existing regional structure in favour of alignment with the first-class counties.

The blow to Yorkshire, for whom this is a further setback after several turbulent years on and off the field, has been mitigated by a promise to bring them into an expanded competition in the third season.

Glamorgan have been given the same assurances and both will receive additional funding to help build their pathway.

But there will be no ‘Tier 1’ cricket at Lord’s in the foreseeable future, with MCC declining to put itself forward and Middlesex among those overlooked. Sussex have also been left on the outside looking in, despite a long and strong
commitment to the women’s game

The ECB has also said it wants to expand Tier 1 to 12 teams by 2029 but no decision has been made yet as to where these further two teams would be based.

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First-class counties that were not awarded Tier 1 status and national counties will be invited to be part of the process to determine teams for Tier 2 and 3 of the new domestic structure. These teams will be announced in September ahead of launch in 2025.

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

The plans could see an 80 per cent increase in the number of professional female players by 2029 and the ECB is committing a further £3m a year from when Glamorgan and Yorkshire are operational.

It will mean a total of £8m new funding per year is invested into women’s domestic cricket by 2027 – taking annual investment in this area to £19m.

Richard Gould, ECB chief executive officer, 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.

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“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.

“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.

Key aims of work to evolve the women’s professional game structure

• Ensuring stronger ownership, accountability, and governance to support the growth of women’s cricket.
• Creating scale and visibility for the women’s game to accelerate team and player fandom.
• Establishing a more compelling platform to commercialise women’s cricket, while enhancing existing arrangements for FCCs with commercial partners who want to sponsor aligned male and female sports properties.
• Providing long-term stability and a deeper sense of belonging for the women’s teams and female players.

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

ECB director of women’s professional game Beth Barrett-Wild said: “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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