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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is the governing body of cricket in England and Wales. It was created on 1 January 1997 combining the roles of the Test and County Cricket Board, the National Cricket Association and the Cricket Council. Like many sports governing bodies in the United Kingdom it is a company limited by guarantee, a legal status which enables it to concentrate on maximising its funding of the sport rather than making a return for investors. The ECB’s offices are at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. Although the organisation is the England and Wales Cricket Board, it is referred to as the ECB not the EWCB as a result of a decision taken in the run-up to the launch of ECB in January 1997 by those from within the game given the task of overseeing the transition from the previous bodies from which ECB was formed.
The ECB is governed by representatives of the 38 first-class and minor counties and the MCC. It is headed by the Management Board (with fifteen members), a First-Class Forum (for first-class cricket) and a Recreational Forum. The ECB’s chairman is Giles Clarke of Somerset and its chief executive is David Collier.
An important responsibility is the direction of the England national side. The Chairman of Selectors Geoff Miller, head coach (Andy Flower) and other coaches are ECB employees. The ECB also employs the English Test match captain Alastair Cook and other centrally contracted players, as well as being responsible for the ECB National Academy, currently based at Loughborough University in Leicestershire.
The ECB is responsible for the financial direction and commercial exploitation of England cricket. It raises revenue from the proceeds of sales for tickets at One Day International and Test matches in England and Wales and shares in revenues when the English team play abroad. The ECB is also responsible for the generation of income from the sale of sponsorship and broadcasting rights, primarily in relation to the English team. The ECB’s income in the 2007 calendar year was £93.0 million, up from £77.0 million in 2006. In 2007 the ECB distributed £31.6 million in “fee payments” to the eighteen first class counties, or £1.75 million per team. This subsidy is an essential source of income for the counties. It also pays certain costs of the domestic cricket programme directly, including the salaries of first class umpires and the cost of temporary floodlights at county matches.
In 1998 the ECB took on responsibility for the direction of women’s cricket in England and Wales from the Women’s Cricket Association.
In 2005 the ECB concluded a commercial arrangement with BSkyB which gave Sky Sports the exclusive television rights for live Test cricket in England and Wales for four years (the 2006 to 2009 seasons). This deal, which took live Test cricket for home English matches away from terrestrial television for the first time generated substantial future revenues for English and Welsh cricket (220 million pounds over 4 years), but was criticised by many England cricket supporters and others. In 2007 Asian rights for live English cricket were sold to ESPN Star Sports for a period of 5 years for 40 million pounds, which is 5 times the previous figure.
The ECB courted further controversy in 2005 when they appeared to dither over the employment contract of the bowling coach Troy Cooley who was seen by many as an important contributor to England’s Ashes success. Cooley left the England setup and joined Australia’s staff.