ECB members propose English T20 Premier League

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London, Jul 12 (UNI) A nine-team English Twenty20 Premier League could well be kicked off in 2010 as two members of the ECB management board have proposed a plan to start the 25-day tournament worth 1.3 billion pounds.

A document drawn up by Surrey chairman David Stewart and MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw, with assistance from the Hampshire and Lancashire clubs, was leaked to the press before play in England's Test with South Africa at Lord's yesterday.

The plans, which have been widely reported in British media today, are for an annual competition in June featuring leading overseas players staged by clubs at the nine Test grounds.

To take stock of each team, a player auction would be held and there would be a salary cap of about 1.5 million pounds.

The proposed 57-match EPL will be financed by private backers and owned by a company called New T20 Ltd.

The proposal could be on the agenda for consideration at a meeting of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) executive on Tuesday.

However, ECB chairman Giles Clarke has denied of any involvement in the proposal.

''It's an idea between two individuals on the ECB board,'' he said. ''We may discuss it,'' Clarke told BBC yesterday.

''There has been a lot of debate and discussion over what is the most optimal format for the summer - what will generate the most money, what spectators want to watch, how it will help the England cricket team,'' he added.

The Times reported the document, 'Consideration of an optimal Twenty20 tournament based in England', had calculated deals over 10 years would be worth about 85 million pounds annually in broadcasting, match-day and commercial revenues.

Rights to each team -linked to a city, ground, region or county - would be sold for an average near 50 million pounds.

Meanwhile, the proposal has brought some serious concerns among the smaller counties who are worried that they might miss out on the financial rewards that would flow from the multi billion tournament.

''We would be completely against this,'' Derbyshire chief executive Tom Sears was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

''We have been told by the ECB that they are looking at an EPL with 18 first-class teams included.

''Then I hear that two of the ECB management board have signed this document, which is really worrying. It would completely change the landscape. We would see the rich getting richer and the have-nots falling further behind.'' But Clarke said he was firmly in favour of 18 counties playing at their county grounds.

''I'm not remotely interested in the reduction of counties,'' Clarke said.

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