Counties split threatens England Premier League idea

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London, Apr 30 (UNI) As the ECB is all geared up to pose its rivalry to the Indian Twenty20 league with an England Premier League, the split among the county chief executives is now threatening the whole idea.

The Leicestershire chief executive Neil Davidson has expressed his concerns that the franchise system might threaten the game's tradition.

''Franchises would be a negative and could turn a lot of people off the game,'' Davidson said.

''As long as the idea is a revenue generator that favours the game as a whole, I'm in favour. But we need to think about everyone, the minor counties, grassroots cricket and the Test match grounds,'' he added.

Professional Cricketers' Association chief executive Sean Morris was also of the view that the whole idea could prove to be a now show as merging the 18 first-class counties into six regional sides to create a viable competition to the IPL would be a tough task.

''We are hugely against regionalising - that would lead, eventually, to the domestic game being reduced to eight regional franchises for all forms of the game,'' the Somerset chief executive Richard Gould said adding, ''My aim is to knock this idea on the head.'' He further added, ''I don't have a problem with an EPL, as long as it involves the 18 counties. Otherwise it would drastically reduce the number of English-qualified players available.'' However, Lancashire's Jim Cumbes, has exuded his confidence in the project.

''There's really no need for us to merge, or Yorkshire or a number of other counties, but I think it could work in some areas of the country where the counties are pretty close together.

''We should be seriously looking at setting up our own Premier League. I could envisage two divisions, with promotion and relegation between the two, like the football Premier League and I think it could happen as early as next year, with the top nine teams from our Twenty20 competition this year forming a Premier League,'' Cumbes stated.

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