Five-million dollar Champions League gets go-ahead

Published: Saturday, June 7, 2008, 21:52 [IST]
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The winners and runners-up in England's Twenty20 competition will join their equivalents from Australia, India and South Africa in a lucrative new tournament later this year.

A statement issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) here Saturday said the inaugural Champions League would involve eight teams playing 15 matches in a 10-day period in late September and early October in either the Middle East or India.

The ECB statement said the tournament would be worth 5 million dollars to the winner, adding there would be "significant sums for the teams finishing second, third and fourth".

Talks were held last week involving ECB chairman Giles Clarke and chief executive David Collier, Cricket Australia's chairman Creagh O'Connor and chief executive James Sutherland.

The plans were finalised Friday following discussions between Clarke, Board of Control for Cricket in India representative Lalit Modi and Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse.

The winners and runners-up in the final of England's Twenty20 event at Hampshire's Rose Bowl ground on July 20 will join Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings from India, South Africa's Titans and KwaZulu Natal Dolphins and Western Australia and Victoria from Australia in the Champions League.

"We are extremely grateful to our great friends from Australia, India and South Africa for their hard work and determination to get this tournament off the ground," Clarke said in the ECB statement.

"The ECB Twenty20 Cup will be even more fiercely contested this season in the knowledge that the two teams who reach the final will qualify for the Champions League and the chance to win five million dollars.

"I am sure that the demand for tickets for this year's ECB Twenty20 Cup will be greater than ever."

The former Somerset chairman added: "We are already aware of a number of broadcast and commercial partners who are anxious to become involved with cricket's latest exciting venture."

Twenty20 matches - which last just three hours as compared to five days of Test cricket or eight hours of the 50-overs-a-side game - have become hugely popular across the world.

The showpiece World Cup every four years is played in the 50-over format.

But the last edition in the Caribbean in 2007 was widely derided for its lack of excitement compared to the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa later in the year.

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