Eton-Harrow fixture granted five-year stay of execution in MCC climbdown

Both the Varisty match and the fixture between Eton and Harrow will remain on the MCC's Lord's fixture list until at least 2028, at which point members will reconvene to readdress the controversial topic


The Eton-Harrow fixture at Lord's has been granted a five-year stay of execution, while the Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge will also remain on the MCC's fixture list at Lord's until at least 2028.

Only then will the futures of those matches be reconsidered.

The MCC, who own Lord's and are custodians of the laws of the game, announced last February that the two fixtures would no longer be hosted on the ground. In September, however, they agreed an initial climbdown for 2023 after a group of MCC members rebelled against the decision.

The club expressed an intention to stage the finals of competitions open to schools and universities instead, in the hope that this would reflect a more meritocratic and socially diverse outlook.

As part of an update provided today, that plan – to invite organisers of competitions open to all schools and universities – remains in place, with the MCC in communication with the Schools Cricket Conference, BUCS and the ECB for over the last year on the subject.


The Varsity match will remain until at least 2028 (Getty Images)

The compromise position – which will again see the men's and women's Varsity matches played as T20 fixtures on the main square – is supported by the Historic Fixtures Group (HFG), who formed to push back against the attempts to squeeze out the games, with a winter review in 2027 the next time that the matter is set to be discussed and potentially leading to a vote at the following AGM in 2028.

Michael Hall, who chaired the HFG, said that his group "fully endorse this outcome" following previous unsuccessful efforts to come upon a compromise.

He added: "Finding room at Lord's for both the historic fixtures and the finals of the Road to Lord's competitions is something that everybody should applaud.

"No one could have foreseen quite how divided the club became on this issue, and the committee deserves credit for implementing a pragmatic solution that gives those divisions the opportunity to heal, yet also leaves a sensible review mechanism in place."

"This announcement demonstrates that we are listening to our members, who want us to play our part in making cricket a game for all and to respect our history and traditions," added MCC chair Bruce Carnegie-Brown.


The subject will be revisited in the winter of 2027 (Getty Images)

"With a number of initiatives in place for the 2023 season, including a variety of men's and women's matches, a simplified membership application process, a rapidly growing MCC Foundation and community programmes for under-represented cricketers, we look forward to welcoming new players and new audiences to Lord's this season and in the years to come."

A January consultation with members resulted in a survey showing the divisiveness of the issue. An MCC press release stated that "the committee has met on several occasions to discuss the survey results" and that "whilst the committee's own position on the fixtures remains unchanged, it recognises that a vote is unlikely to deliver an outcome different from that of the survey".

The previous compromise proposal made by the MCC was for the Varsity and Eton-Harrow matches to take place in alternate years on rotation with the Road to Lord's finals for schools and universities. The HFG's response was a proposal for the historic fixtures to remain annual affairs for at least a decade.

MCC chief executive Guy Lavender said: "We are making good progress in a number of areas. It would be easy to view this as a binary issue about the club's appetite for openness and development, but I think it would be unfair. I think we should be judged on the breadth of what we do not just this particular issue.

"The committee has to listen to the members views, but I don't see this great divide. I think this has just become a real sort of weathervane for a number of issues. We're a private club with with a public function and you have to balance those two things."





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