In a move that might “change the game” for the future of English cricket, a private equity firm has submitted a £400 million proposal for a 75% interest in The Hundred.
According to Sky News, a London-listed buyout company named Bridgepoint Group has approached the ECB with a proposal that could bring up to £300 million in new funding to English cricket. Despite its drawbacks, this idea is likely to appeal to the cash-strapped counties dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic’s aftereffects.
It would also validate skeptics of the Hundred’s assertions that it would one day produce a big windfall for English cricket, and the news comes at a time when the counties are pushing back against the Hundred’s dominance of the summer peak weeks, as documented this week by Telegraph Sport.
The game is divided over the Hundred, the future of first-class cricket, and county fans are concerned about an existential danger to the four-day game they love. They will perceive internal investment as additional risk and question how the four-day game will fare against investors wanting a return on their investment.
The Hundred has been listed on the ECB’s calendar until 2028:
The free-to-air component, which was so important to the Hundred’s conception, has not yet been renegotiated from 2025 onwards, despite the Hundred being locked into the ECB’s calendar until 2028. The ECB reported a record 271,000 spectators for women’s matches in the 2022 season, and it is thought that the enormous potential of the women’s Hundred is a special draw for the investment group.
In addition to managing the commercial development of the Winter Olympics through its media rights agency, InFront, Bridgepoint has a history of investing in MotoGP for a number of years. The group recently attempted to reach a formal agreement to invest in the Women’s Super League of football.
The bid comes at a crucial time for English cricket’s future, as the league is already dealing with the fallout from Andrew Strauss’s recent High-Performance Review, which suggested, among other things, a reduction in red-ball play and a dedicated August window for Hundred. The counties are expected to reject several of the review’s suggestions because of the Hundred’s dominant position in the calendar, which is already a source of friction for many.