A proposal to split the Specsavers County Championship into three conferences of six teams apiece has been put forward to the England and Wales Cricket Board by two high-ranking Yorkshire officials.
Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon, respectively chief executive and director of cricket at Yorkshire, have submitted plans that would bring an end to the current two division structure with promotion and relegation which has been in place since 2000.
Such a model has been criticised recently for a lack of incentives for teams who are not challenging at either end of the table, but the scheme under Arthur and Moxon, which would see each county play 15 matches a season, aims to eliminate that in a radical shake-up of the competition.
Arthur believes the format could start in the summer of 2020 and sees no reason why it cannot co-exist with the city-based eight-team Twenty20 tournament that the ECB is due to launch in the same year.
He told Yorkshire’s official website: “Martyn Moxon and I put it forward to the ECB a couple of months ago. We put it forward purely from a personal point of view, not from a Yorkshire point of view.
“We feel that it would keep everybody engaged in the game because there are certain counties that feel threatened – wrongly, in my opinion – by the new T20 city competition. We believe in 18 first-class counties, and this would keep everybody together.”
Under the proposals, the teams would be split as fairly as possible – in the first instance depending on where they finished the previous season – and would play each other home and away.
After 10 games, the counties would be separated once more according to their position in the standings, playing each other only once, and the overall champion county would receive £1million in prize money.
Arthur explained: “We worked on the basis of how everything finished last season. One, two and three in the first division would go into Conference A, B and C (That would be Essex, Lancashire and Surrey). Then, four (Yorkshire) into A, five into B and six into C and so on.
“You have your three conferences of six, you play five home and five away within that. Then you go into Conferences D, E and F (for the final five games of the season). The first and second teams in A, B and C would go into D.
“You take your points forward with you and for the last five matches of the season. The three teams who were first play three home games and the teams who were second play two. You take all your points forward and you get your eventual champions and one through to 18.
“The first lot of five come in the early part of the season, then the next lot of five finishes by the middle of August. Then you have five slots from then until the end of September to finish it off. There will be a real finale to the end of the season.”
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