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National Club Championship remains

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The ECB has confirmed that the National Club Championship will continue to run in 2009, although in a slightly altered format.

With long-term partner Cockspur switching their sponsorship to the new Cockspur Club Twenty20, ECB is currently seeking a new sponsor for the National Club Championship ahead of what will be the 41st year of the prestigious Sunday afternoon competition.

Following consultation with the League Cricket Conference, Club Cricket Conference, Midlands Club Cricket Conference and some individual leagues and clubs ECB will next season run a National Club Championship of the highest possible quality but with one fewer round than in the past.

Alongside this, the Cockspur Club Twenty20 will see qualifiers from 25 Premier League set-ups through to a knockout phase, leading towards a televised finals day at a floodlit county venue.

ECB’s head of cricket operations (non first-class), Paul Bedford, said: "Sunday afternoon cricket is important and essential to the health of the recreational game.

“Twenty20 cricket is more than just the game and provides an opportunity for people to come to cricket in the evening, it enables young players to mix with older players, is a great platform for attracting volunteers to the game and provides a vibrant and inclusive environment for club cricket.”

The maximum possible entry for the National Club Championship will be 256 teams in 2009. All clubs that entered in 2008 have been invited to be considered for inclusion in the competition in 2009, but it may well be necessary to limit the number of clubs that are included in the draw.

If this is the case then the following criteria will be used in judging suitable entries:-

1) Player registration carried out on the Club’s Play-Cricket site
2) League and Division that the Club plays in on a Saturday
3) Standard of ground and ancillary facilities
4) Previous history of the Club in the competition.

The draw for each group will be seeded, as in previous years, based on the record of the club in the previous season both in this competition and in the Premier League, Premier Divisions. The entry fee for the competition in 2009 will be £50.

To reduce the travelling for the clubs in the North East of the country the decision has been taken to limit the 2009 competition to clubs from England and Wales. As a result there will no longer be the need to travel into Scotland to play matches.

The 2009 final will not be held at Lord’s due to the high number of major matches to be staged at the home of cricket next summer but will be at a county ground. Prize money will be reduced for 2009.

Applications for consideration for entry must reach the ECB cricket department by Saturday November 15 2008.

ECB National Club Championship - Provisional Dates for 2009

First Round
Sunday May 3

Second Round
Sunday May 24

Third Round
Sunday June 14

Group Finals (4th Round)
Sunday June 28

Fifth Round
Sunday July 12

Quarter-Finals
Sunday August 2

Semi-finals
Sunday August 23 or 30

Final
Tuesday September 15 (TBC)

Cockspur Club Twenty20 - Scheduled Dates for 2009

County/League Finals Day
August 9 or 16

Area Finals Day
Monday August 24 or 30 - reserve day September 6

Regional Finals Day
September 13 - reserve day September 20

National Finals Day
Sunday September 27 (TBC)