MCC in new vote to admit women

AFTER TWO centuries as a bastion of male chauvinism, the Marylebone Cricket Club is on the verge of allowing women to apply for membership.

The MCC committee will call a press conference at Lord's Cricket Ground today at which it is expected to announce a new vote on an issue that is denting finances of the most famous club in cricket.

The loss of potential sponsors and a pounds 4.5 million lottery grant from the Sports Council because of the continued exclusion of women have given impetus to the movement for change within the MCC.

Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, the club president, signalled his wish that women should be made eligible for election by the time his two-year presidency comes to an end in October.

But under MCC rules, any such change requires the consent of two-thirds of the membership. At a special vote last February, 6,969 members voted in favour of admitting women, with 5,538 against.

The 56 per cent "yes" vote was not enough to end male domination and the reformists now hope to persuade some of the 5,000 non-voters to swing the balance.

In May, the MCC commissioned research of its members to find out why there was still so much resistance to the idea of females among the ranks of red and yellow club ties. Many respondents are determined to maintain the status quo.

But Rachel Heyhoe Flint, the former England women's cricket captain, said she was encouraged that progress was at last being made. "After 211 years, I suppose it's just about time for this change," she said.

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