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Sussex chief calls for expansion

Chief Executive Gus Mackay today called for the expansion of the Twenty20 Cup as Sussex prepare to play in front of their biggest crowds for years.

Mackay wants the next review of the domestic structure to recommend that there are ten regional qualifying games instead of eight which would give counties one more lucrative home fixture.

He said: "Initially I was against further expansion because I was worried we could kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

advertisement"But we have seen that the product works and its popularity is continuing to grow. It is an established competition now and everyone from spectators to players looks forward to these two weeks."

Sussex open their campaign away to Essex Eagles at a sold-out Chelmsford tonight before facing Middlesex at Hove on Sunday (2.30pm). Tickets are still available for that game but the floodlit home matches against Surrey and Hampshire are heading towards 7,000 sell-outs, although some tickets remain.

The club have increased capacity at the County Ground by erecting a 1,000-seat temporary stand which means Hove will host their biggest crowds since 1999 when nearly 7,000 watched a World Cup game between India and South Africa.

Sussex's advanced sales are also a record with 16,000 tickets already sold and the county will earn more gate revenue from one Twenty20 match than their entire home programme of six Championship games.

In addition, corporate hospitality for all four matches has been sold out for months.

Mackay added: "The product works and it sells. Commercially it has been a wonderful thing for cricket."

Sussex have never reached the knockout stages in the four previous competitions which brings the potential of another lucrative home game in the quarter-finals.

And the Sharks will be without their most explosive batsman Matt Prior for this season's tournament because of England commitments. But Mackay is confident Sussex can progress.

He added: "The players love the competition, especially playing in front of such big, enthusiastic crowds.

"A home quarter-final would be fantastic and I hope this is the year we do it."

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source - theargus.co.uk

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