ECB Seeks Private Investment in Hundred Teams to Boost Growth

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is actively seeking private investment for The Hundred teams, according to their Chief Executive, Richard Gould. The Hundred, a unique 100-ball tournament that was introduced in 2021, is currently financed by the ECB, with funds being distributed to the associated counties.

Gould has indicated that the focus of investment discussions has shifted from the tournament as a whole to individual teams. He believes that The Hundred presents an excellent opportunity for private investment in cricket.

The trend of private investment in cricket has been on the rise, with owners of teams from the Indian Premier League – the world’s largest franchise league – investing in teams in South Africa, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates.

In a bid to boost the women’s game, the ECB has committed an additional £100,000 towards salaries for 2024. However, the earnings of both male and female players are significantly lower than those in franchise tournaments in India, making it challenging to attract top international players.

Gould, speaking at a launch event ahead of the new English domestic season, highlighted the need for private investment to compete on a global scale, despite most counties being privately-owned members clubs.

The Hundred was conceived by the ECB to appeal to a broader audience and to fit into shorter broadcast slots. In 2023, the tournament attracted a record 580,000 fans, with a significant proportion of tickets sold to families and women.

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Despite its success, The Hundred has faced criticism from traditional cricket fans over the representation of the 18 counties in the tournament. The eight teams in The Hundred are combinations of counties, leading to some fans facing long journeys to support their nearest team.

Gould dismissed concerns that investment at the team level could result in funds being harder to distribute and teams feeling more marginalised. He believes that the current structure of the sport allows for effective investment in areas that will yield the most return.

The ECB is committed to The Hundred until 2028 through a broadcast deal with Sky Sports. Gould is optimistic that investment will elevate the tournament to new heights over the next five years.

Sam Billings, captain of the 2023 men’s champions, Oval Invincibles, expressed his desire for The Hundred to become the second-best competition in the world. He emphasised the importance of partnerships and reinvestment in the game to ensure the continued strength of English cricket in the future.

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