Counties successful in bidding for eight professional women's tier one teams revealed as ECB announce next phase

Alongside the news of which first-class counties have had bids accepted, the governing body have outlined an expansion and investment plan for the next five years

The eight first-class counties successful in bidding for the new professional women's tier-one sides have been revealed by the ECB.

Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire will host a pro side from 2025, replacing the current regional structure.

There is good news for those initially unsuccessful. Glamorgan and Yorkshire will be added to the group in 2027 and will receive funding for their programme over the intervening years.

And the ECB plan to further increase the number of tier-one sides to 12 by 2029, by which time the amount of professional women's players is expected to climb by nearly 80 per cent.

Sixteen of the 18 first-class counties submitted bids after an invitation to tender opened on January 31. Only Derbyshire and Worcestershire decided against entering the process, which closed on March 10.


Glamorgan and Yorkshire will become tier-one sides from 2027 (Getty Images)


ECB chief executive Richard Gould says the restructuring will "create more role models to inspire future generations" (Getty Images)

Interviews to establish further detail around each of the plans took place last month in front of a panel including Ebony Rainford-Brent and Neil Snowball. Four criteria - vision and mission, quality cricket, passionate fans and long-term value - were used to rate each of the bids.

Already committed to providing £1.3 million to counties to assist in financing the tier-one sides, support for Glamorgan and Yorkshire will see a £19 million outlay on the project by 2027.

Related: The end of the women's regional era – from the players' perspective

"It's clear that the game is united in wanting to take the women's professional game forward, and in wanting to produce commercially vibrant teams and competitions that excite fans and showcase the quality of our professional players," said Beth Barrett-Wild, ECB director of women's professional game.

"I'm energised about what comes next, for the Counties themselves, for the players, for fans and for everyone who wants to see women's cricket continue its accelerated trajectory."


Kent have been overlooked despite making Beckenham, one of the homes of South East Stars, as a central part of their bid (Tom Dulat/Getty Images for Surrey CCC)


Lord's-based Middlesex were unsuccessful despite having MCC support (Getty Images)

Currently, half of those counties who submitted bids have no guaranteed prospect of hosting tier one side in the forseeable future. They include Lord's-based Middlesex, whose proposal earned support from MCC, Sussex, Kent, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

First-class counties missing out will complete tiers two and three, combined with National Counties, but no promotion or relegation will occur before 2025-2028. This process is expected to be completed by September ensuring the entire structure can launch next summer.

'It's an exciting time to be involved in women's cricket' - Charlie Dean joins Jack Brooks and Katherine Sciver-Brunt on Under The Lid - Inside Pro Cricket Podcast:


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It is hoped that aligning professional women's teams with established counties will provide "stronger governance", "accelerate team and player fandom", attract lucrative "commercial partners" and provide "long-term stability" for the female code.

The radical overhaul, the latest for women's domestic cricket after the launch of the regional structure in 2020, following damning findings in the ICEC report. It included evidence that "women are marginalised and routinely experience sexism and misogyny" and the code "is treated as subordinate to the men's game, and women have little or no power, voice or influence within cricket's decision-making structures".

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