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Re: Franchise CC
Posted by: Supporting Middlesex since 1999
Date: 29/07/2016 19:42
The intention of the various proposals that keep on getting published is that they will help attract new supporters to cricket. However, the problem with all this is that it risks alienating the people who presently spend their time and money on the sport.

It is important to attract new supporters, otherwise who will support cricket after us lot are gone? However, I am not convinced that introducing city-based teams and maybe playing at Wembley Stadium will do a greatly better job of attracting new supporters compared to the current format.

The quality of the teams would probably be better. However, points to bear in mind include:

1). Lots of support exists outside the big cities.
2). Are people more likely to support a newly-founded team than one with lots of history, a strong identity and (to apply a business term) a strong brand?
3). If the answer to 2). is no, then considering matches at Lord’s at The Oval tend not to sell out until a few days before the match (or don’t sell out at all), then how is there a possibility of getting 50,000+ at Wembley Stadium?

I have always felt that if a city-based competition is introduced, then an 18-county competition ought to be played alongside it so that the non-Test grounds can continue staging Twenty20 matches and the players unable to get a contract with a city-based team can play some Twenty20 matches. However, the downside is that the quality of this competition may not be good if the best players are in the city-based competition. In other words, one of the great things about all county competitions is that it is one step below international cricket, but having two separate Twenty20 competitions would make the county competition two steps below internationals.

There is no ideal way of naming the city-based sides. I know for a fact that there are plenty of people from Yorkshire who could never support a team with ‘Leeds’ in their name, while someone from Portsmouth recently wrote into The Cricketer to take offence at Simon Hughes’ proposal of a Southampton Saints side. Simply giving teams nicknames or sponsors’ names would be even worse! I can understand why Yorkshire and probably a few other counties would like there to be a team bearing their name, although that would cause the non-Test counties to ask why the same can’t happen to them.

I am not sure how a city-based competition including Yorkshire would work, as I thought that it is supposed to be a blank canvas in regards to player-allocation, which would mean that there is no guarantee that Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid etc. would play for Yorkshire, and no reason why Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes etc. couldn’t play for Yorkshire or any of the other teams. It would be a mish-mash if the teams included a mixture of teams named after counties, cities, sponsors and nicknames (e.g Yorkshire, Manchester, Pumas, Newcastle, Tesco, Surrey etc.)!

I can’t see many of the traditional supporters accepting these proposals, which is probably why no-one sees much point in asking them. We will have to see how popular the proposals would be with the younger generation.

Personally, I can’t see myself feeling attracted to team in which Middlesex CCC have little or no control, and I wouldn’t have thought I would attend their matches if I had to pay. I hope that if there is only one London side, then it won't be called 'Surrey'. I know that London has two big cricket grounds and a few big football/rugby grounds, but to repeat what I have written, I don't know if there is an appetite in London for there to be two made-up teams, which causes me to fear the possibility of there only being one London team with their name being 'Surrey'.

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