Cricket: Players back MacLaurin's proposals

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND'S cricketers yesterday endorsed Lord MacLaurin's proposed changes to the domestic structure of the game, but called for Lord's to allow them greater independence as a professional body.

All three major issues on the agenda at the emergency general meeting of the Professional Cricketers' Association at Edgbaston - the format of the County Championship, a review of the registration rules and a demand for an increased share of television revenue - received healthy support from the biggest assembly of players in 20 years.

More than 200 of the PCA's 415 members attended the meeting, convened following last September's decision by the counties to reject the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman's proposal for a two- division Championship with promotion and relegation.

Including some of the postal votes, 157 of which still have to be counted, 84 per cent of those who voted backed a two-division Championship, 93 per cent rejected the current registration regulations and there was 100 per cent backing for the PCA's campaign to be regarded as the 19th county when the ECB shares out the expanding TV revenue - which could be worth around pounds 1m a year when the ECB apportions a share of the income.

The majority backing, which represents an increase in support from last September when two-thirds of the members endorsed a two-division Championship prior to the counties' vote, gives the PCA executive the mandate to discuss the situation with the Board.

"We have got through phase one, which was to get as many players together as possible and discuss things and now we have to go and talk to the Board," explained the PCA chairman, Matthew Fleming.

The PCA's decision is unlikely to force a change in the counties' 12- 7 vote in favour of retaining the current Championship structure and rewarding the top eight finishers with a one-day tournament at the beginning of next season - a format which is in place for the next three years.