THE England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced Somerset will be one of the eight First Class Counties who have been successful in their bid to be awarded Tier 1 women’s team status from 2025.

As a further outcome of the Tier 1 invitation to tender process, the ECB has also today announced the selection of two additional First Class Counties to expand Tier 1 from eight to ten teams by 2027, and an intent to grow to 12 teams by the 2029 season.

The eight selected Counties to compete in Tier 1 of the evolved women’s professional domestic structure from 2025 are: Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surry, Warwickshire. Joining them, by 2027, will be Glamorgan and Yorkshire, who have been named as the first two Tier 1 expansion teams.

This announcement means that the Western Storm Women’s team will be based at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton as from 2025.

The ECB has also set the ambition to expand Tier 1 to 12 teams by 2029, given the rapid growth of the women’s game and the level of passion and desire for the growth of women’s professional cricket demonstrated across the FCC network during this tender process. No decision has been made yet as to where these further two teams would be based.

The plans – which could see an 80% increase in the number of professional female players in England and Wales by 2029 compared to today – will further accelerate the growth of women’s cricket as a three-tiered domestic competition structure is introduced, and the ownership model underpinning the women’s professional game evolves.

To enable the expansion from eight to ten Tier 1 teams, the ECB is committing a further £3m a year from such a time Glamorgan and Yorkshire are operational. It will mean a total of £8m new funding per year is invested into women’s domestic cricket by 2027 – taking annual investment in this area to c.£19m.

Following the successful tender process, Somerset CCC Chief Executive, Gordon Hollins said: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity by the ECB to play a leading role in the growth of women’s cricket. I am extremely proud of all the staff at Somerset CCC, past and present, who have done so much to promote and develop women’s cricket over several years.