The County Championship could in future be forced to move it's early matches abroad in order to ease fixture congestion - with the Caribbean one of several possible destinations. 

A proposal is in the early stages of being considered and is reportedly the number one current concern for the ECB.

Currently, the season-opener between the MCC and the county champions is already held in Abu Dhabi - another potential venue - and has been since 2010. The Caribbean, where several teams already train, is another possibility.

This would also mean the start of the season being moved forward to March in order for counties to fit in 16 Championship matches, along with at least twelve 40-over and ten Twenty20 fixtures. 

Due to the IPL, the Champions League, and other lucrative limited-overs tournaments the County season is already restricted. This year it began on the 10th April with teams having to play their games rapidly in order to avoid a pile-up.

From next season, an increased calendar including 14 Twenty20 games will spread throughout the whole season, with a competition of a minimum of eight 50-over games replacing the 40-over tournament.

When revising the calendar, the ECB faced the challenge of balancing the need for county county cricket to act as a feeder to the England team while at the same time acknowledging that limited-overs cricket provides domestic sides with vital income from both spectators and television rights. 

A proposal to cut the number of Championship matches to 14 was rejected, leaving the issue of fitting all 16 matches into a season that this year ends as late as the 21st September.

With the county champions already travelling to Abu Dhabi and many other teams travelling abroad during pre-season, the step seems a sensible one. 

Chief Executive of the Emirates Cricket Board David East - a former Essex cricketer - highlighted the Sheikh Zayed Stadium's capacity to stage three first-class games simultaneously, and said the venue would be "very happy and willing to stage matches if the ECB requires help."

An earlier start to the season would also prevent a clash between the end of the County Championship and the Champions League T20. Having taken part in each of the last two years, the winners and finalists of the English competition are set to miss out on the tournament this season due to the amount of other commitments they will still have. 


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