- The 18 counties will discuss a radical revamp of the Hundred on Tuesday
- The 10-team Hundred has been valued at £1billion by accountancy firm Deloitte
- New Hundred teams in the south west and north east earmarked by ECB
The Hundred is set to expand to 10 teams, with the other eight counties offered the chance to form a second division and the theoretical possibility of promotion, as part of a £1billion relaunch of the competition.
Mail Sport can reveal details of radical new plans to be discussed by the 18 counties on Tuesday with the ECB emboldened by receiving a £1bn valuation for a 10-team Hundred from accountancy firm Deloitte.
The ECB have owned all of the eight Hundred teams since the new format was launched five years ago, but are willing to hand over 51 per cent of each of the franchises to their constituent counties.
The franchises would then have the option to sell some or all of their 51 per cent stake to private investors in the hope of growing the competition and increasing the amount of money available for player salaries.
IPL teams and owners of American sports franchises have already expressed interest in buying into Hundred teams, but will not submit formal offers until the new structure of the competition is clear.
The 18 counties will discuss a radical revamp of the Hundred on Tuesday, with plans to make it a 10-team competition. PICTURED: Trent Rockets lift the trophy after winning the tournament
The transfer of ownership from the ECB and the possibility of private investment could be approved in time for the start of the 2025 season, although launching two more teams is likely to have to wait until the start of the next broadcast cycle in 2028.
New Hundred teams in the south west and north east have been earmarked by the ECB and could be launched before 2028 if current TV rights holders Sky Sports give their approval. The possibility of switching from 100 balls to a T20 at some point remains on the table, but would not take place until after 2028.
The ECB’s ambitious expansion plans also include proposals for the launch of a second division of the Hundred for the other eight counties, although they have yet to confirm whether promotion to the top tier would be possible.
Under one proposal to be discussed a single promotion spot could be offered via a play-off with the bottom-placed Hundred team each season. In a system similar to that used by Premiership Rugby however the team going would also have to demonstrate they meet certain minimum standards, such as having 10,000-capacity stadium for example, so promotion would not be guaranteed every season.
The ECB had feared that the threat of relegation would deter investors, but Deloitte’s report is understood to state that it would only reduce the value of the Hundred by around 10 per cent.
Deloitte’s report concludes that the total value of 10-team competition would be at least £1bn, a significant increase on the £300m offer for 75 per cent of the Hundred from private equity firm Bridgepoint which the ECB rejected last year. The ECB’s willingness to hand over 51 per cent stakes to the franchises is significant, as IPL owners are understood to be seeking a controlling interest.
The counties will discuss the proposals in a series of meetings starting on Tuesday, but a final decision is not expected until next year.
The ECB have owned all of the eight Hundred teams since the new format was launched five years ago
In addition to gaining the backing of 12 of the 18 counties the proposals would need to be approved by Sky Sports, who hold broadcast rights for the Hundred until 2028 and are expected to extend their contract beyond that date.
No changes will be made until 2025 at the earliest.
The Hundred will continue to take place in a three-week August window aimed at attracting family crowds and a bumper TV audience.
Despite the proposals to expand it is understood that the county’s T20 Blast would remain in place earlier in the season, with its focus switching to attracting a social and party audience with games played primarily on Thursday and Friday evenings.