Club Statement: ECB decision on Tier One Women’s Professional Game

Thursday 18th April 2024


Club Statement: ECB decision on Tier One Women’s Professional Game

The Club can confirm that Kent will not be one of the eight counties to be awarded a Tier One, professional women’s team for the period 2025-2028.

At an England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) meeting yesterday, the recommendation of the Selection Panel was ratified by the Board. The eight Tier One positions were awarded to Lancashire, Durham, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire and Somerset. The Club also understands that by 2027, Tier One will be expanded to ten teams, to include Glamorgan and Yorkshire. In 2029, the ECB aims to expand the top tier to 12 teams, although the criterion for expansion is unconfirmed.

Kent’s bid outlined the scale of opportunity to grow cricket in Kent and London with a dedicated Performance Centre and state-of-the-art training facilities based at The County Ground, Beckenham, the current base of the women’s regional team, South East Stars.  This was supported by data showing a combined population in Kent and our four London Boroughs of almost three million people, connectivity both north and south of the River Thames and credible data suggested that London has capacity for three major cricket venues. Kent’s Tier One team would have been underpinned by a modern and robust governance model consisting of a new sub-company overseen by a dedicated and diverse Board of Directors and a financially sustainable business model built on a growing local community fanbase and a committed major commercial partnership with a globally recognised brand.

The Club is awaiting further details from ECB on the transition process. There is already a strong partnership in place in the Women’s and Girls’ game between Surrey and Kent. Both counties have jointly supported the South East Stars since the team was launched in 2020 and the welfare of players, coaching and support staff in the transition period will be a key consideration.

Club Chair, Simon Philip, said: “As the most successful county team in the history of Women’s Cricket, offering the only dedicated Women’s performance centre at Beckenham and based in a highly diverse South East London population of 1.2 million people, the decision is difficult to swallow. With nine of the 80 players selected in The Hundred in 2024 emerging from the Kent Pathway, it is hard to accept that – at least for the next four years – they will have to ply their trade elsewhere to further their professional careers. Whilst this decision will take some getting over, we remain committed to Women’s and Girls’ cricket and are determined to not let it hamper our long-term ambitions for Kent Cricket, Beckenham and our Women’s and Girls’ game. However, this is a deeply disappointing day for the Club and our players who wanted an opportunity to wear the White Horse at the highest level.”

Kent Cricket Chief Executive, Simon Storey, said: “I would like to pay tribute to our hard-working and experienced bid team who put together a comprehensive and professional bid which had the support of the Board and our key stakeholders.

“Despite our disappointment, the Club remains wholly committed to the growth of Women’s and Girls’ Cricket across the county, spanning from grassroots to our Talent pathway. We will continue to invest in the Girls Talent Pathway, providing young, aspiring female cricketers across our county with a promising cricketing future from U11 to U18 level.  We are incredibly proud of our history, producing outstanding young players who have progressed to play regional and franchise cricket and gone on to represent England and we will continue to do so.

“We are committed to building a competitive squad and a strong Women’s and Girls’ infrastructure which will enable Kent to compete on-field for a place in Tier One on merit, once the pyramid opens up to promotion and relegation. Work will also continue with our vision to transform The County Ground, Beckenham into becoming a venue to host a potential third Hundred team in London alongside a future Tier One Women’s cricket home for Kent.”