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    Leicestershire chief executive says hundred sell-off could be cricket's 'Premier League' moment
Leicestershire chief executive says hundred sell-off could be cricket's 'Premier League' moment
Leicestershire hosted England Women last September but missed out on Tier 1 status. Source: ECB via Getty Images

Leicestershire chief executive says hundred sell-off could be cricket's 'Premier League' moment

Sean Jarvis, Leicestershire's chief executive, has warned that county cricket is facing its "Premier League moment" with the ECB's impending sale of its stake in the Hundred, and has urged the game to avoid creating the same haves and have-nots divide currently afflicting English football.

Despite being reigning Metro Bank One-Day Cup champions and top of Division Two of the County Championship after a rain-affected first month of the season, Leicestershire's lowly status in English cricket was compounded last month when their bid to become a Tier One team in the new women's competition from 2025 was overlooked by the ECB - a decision that left the club "crestfallen", according to a strongly-worded statement.

Jarvis stated:

"We didn't use that word lightly. We had every part of the business involved in our tender process, from the commercial team to the catering, because we genuinely believed it was an amazing opportunity for the ECB to tear up the rule book, and give a club like Leicestershire an opportunity to do something different."

Instead, the decision means that Leicestershire are now one of seven first-class counties that will not host men's international cricket, hundred matches or top-class women's domestic matches from next year, and Jarvis - whose 14 years as commercial director at Huddersfield Town have informed his approach to cricket management - is concerned that the club is running out of options to remain relevant in a fast-changing game.

The gulf between the sport's haves and have-nots could widen in the coming weeks, however, as the ECB nears a final decision on the future of the Hundred after a lengthy consultation period. The current expectation is that host nations will receive a 51% share of their respective teams, with the remaining countries sharing up to 30% of the remaining value of the competition.

For this reason, Jarvis believes that the "open pyramid" option for the Hundred, which would see all 18 counties plus MCC as the major stakeholders in London Spirit competing in a two-tier structure with the future prospect of promotion and relegation, should not be excluded from discussions.

Whatever the outcome, Jarvis recognises that a major overhaul of Grace Road is overdue and that Leicestershire's share of the Hundred windfall - coupled with strategic partnerships with Leicester City Council and other local business interests - should allow the club to create a venue that can better serve the needs of one of the country's largest sporting communities.

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