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Clarke rejects Twenty20 city franchises

The ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, today warned against the idea of a revamped Twenty20 competition involving city franchises.

Clarke said the success of the Indian Premier League showed there were great opportunities ahead for domestic cricket in England, but that hundreds of years of tradition should not be discarded.

"Franchise sport has simply never worked in the UK," Clarke told representatives of the counties, the county boards, the MCC and the minor counties at Lord's. "Tradition and history rather than Bollywood stars and glitz are the binding which persuade supporters to return week in week out to our grounds - whether it is rugby, football or cricket.

"There has never yet been a successful Team London in any sport and nor is there likely to be any support for a Team Manchester or Team Leeds from traditional areas of rivalry such as Liverpool or Sheffield."

Clarke congratulated the Board for Control of Cricket in India for the development of the IPL and said much could be learned from their progress. But he observed that even this competition does not consist wholly of city franchises in the truest sense.

"People talked of an Indian event based on city franchises, but these were not city franchises as we know them other than in the great cities of India such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai. Often these were regional, state - or some might say county - franchises, based on a provincial city. So in Jaipur we had the Rajasthan Royals, in Hyderabad, the Deccan Chargers and in Mohali, the Kings Eleven Punjab. Not much difference than Nottingham and Nottinghamshire or Derby and Derbyshire.

"Much of the look and feel of the tournament was taken from the ECB template - now the challenge for all of us is to continue investing in the marketing and presentation of the Twenty Cup to ensure it remains a brand leader for domestic competitions."

Clarke said any alterations to the current format of the short-form competition would only come after careful consultation with fans and accountants. "When the ECB launched its own Twenty20 Cup it was on the back of extensive spectator research and financial analysis. This is an exercise we will repeat before launching any new competition because we have said this tournament must be robust, spectator friendly and economically sustainable."

Clarke confirmed there was a mandate for the creation of a Champions League later this year between the winners of the Twenty20 competitions in various countries, and thanked Sir Allen Stanford for his interest in investing in Twenty20 cricket. "Most of all I thank [Sir Allen] for believing that the ECB is the right vehicle through which to expand his patronage in cricket.

"I know that he has been extremely impressed by the facilities in England and Wales and also by the scope of the work of the ECB and the excellence of the course plotted by its chief executive and board. I hope to give more details in the days and weeks ahead but I can guarantee that everyone in the game - from playground to Test arena - will benefit from this deal."

source - guardian.co.uk
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