European Cricket League adds five new teams

The organisers of the European Cricket League have expanded the competition to include five new teams for its second season, which will take place from May 31 to June 7, 2020.

The first edition of the competition, described as the ‘Champions League of cricket’, made its debut this summer with the domestic champions of the Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia and Spain competing in a round-robin T10 competition at the same venue. VOC Rotterdam won the first event in which Romanian Cluj Cricket Club bowler Pavel Florin attained cult status after a social media clip of his unusual bowling action went viral.

Former Team Marketing executives Frank Leenders and Thomas Klooz serve as president and board member for the ECL while Fifa’s former director of broadcasting is its chief executive. The tournament is the brainchild of former Western Australia and German national team cricketer Daniel Weston, who persuaded these investors there were untapped opportunities for cricket in Europe thanks to mass-migration from the sub-continent.

A statement from the organisers indicated five new teams, including the club champions from Belgium, Finland, Norway, Sweden will also compete in the next edition: ECL20. The runners up in Holland’s domestic competition, HBS Cricket Club, have been awarded a position as a “bonus Netherlands representative”.

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To secure the participation of the teams, the organisers of the ECL have signed long-term agreements with the national cricket federations for each of the participating domestic champions. In most cases this means the organisers now have the exclusive media and data rights to cricket in some of the countries represented in the competition.

Weston says he identified unexpected ‘micro-communities’ of cricket fans in Europe after clips he posted of the German national cricket team on Facebook garnered millions of views. He estimates there are 23 million cricket fans in continental Europe thanks to migration from cricket-loving countries.

In April this year, the Spring Media agency agreed a deal to distribute the global media rights for the inaugural 2019 edition of the ECL.

The event organisers have also created the European Cricket Network (ECN), a digital hub which streams a selection of domestic qualifiers for the ECL and collates the domestic club results covered by its data rights agreements.

The ECL said it would look to strike more deals with national federations and add more teams before next year’s event.