A proposal to split the County Championship into three conferences of six teams apiece has been put forward to the England and Wales Cricket Board by two Yorkshire officials.
Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon, respectively chief executive and director of cricket at Yorkshire, have submitted plans that would bring an end to the current two-division structure with promotion and relegation which has been in place since 2000.
Such a model has been criticised recently for a lack of incentives for teams who are not challenging at either end of the table, but the scheme under Arthur and Moxon, which would see each county play 15 matches a season, split into three periods of the summer, aims to eliminate that in a radical shake-up of the competition.
Arthur believes the format could start in the summer of 2020 and sees no reason why it cannot co-exist with the city-based eight-team Twenty20 tournament that the ECB is due to launch in the same year.
He said: “We feel that it would keep everybody engaged in the game because there are certain counties that feel threatened – wrongly, in my opinion – by the new T20 city competition. We believe in 18 first-class counties, and this would keep everybody together.”
Under the proposals, the teams would be split as fairly as possible – in the first instance depending on where they finished the previous season – and would play each other home and away.
After 10 games, the counties would be separated once more according to their position in the standings, playing each other only once, and the overall champion county would receive £1m in prize money.
Arthur explained: “We worked on the basis of how everything finished last season. One, two and three in the first division would go into Conference A, B and C (that would be Essex, Lancashire and Surrey). Then, four (Yorkshire) into A, five into B and six into C and so on.
“You have your three conferences of six, you play five home and five away within that. Then you go into Conferences D, E and F (for the final five games of the season). The first and second teams in A, B and C would go into D.”