Spain’s prestigious La Manga Club has been selected as the official venue partner for the eagerly-awaited new European Cricket League (ECL), which will launch this summer and has been hailed as cricket’s equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
The famous sports and leisure resort will host the event for the next three years, with the inaugural tournament taking place in Murcia, south-east Spain, from July 29-31.
Played over 17 matches in a T10 format, ECL 19 will feature the domestic champions of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia and Spain competing for the chance to be crowned as Continental Europe club cricket’s ‘Kings of Europe’.
And interest in the new competition is set be huge, with all the games being televised live in Europe and India across a combination of broadcast, digital and social channels to 160-plus countries and an estimated audience of more than 142m people.
Nick Montgomery, general manager at La Manga Club, said: “The European Cricket League is a fantastic new initiative, and we’re thrilled to be playing such an important part in helping to launch such an exciting project.
“The facilities that we can offer cricket teams are on a par with some of the best in the world, and partnering with this new competition will give us the opportunity to showcase the resort to a truly global audience.”
La Manga Club is widely-known as the home of cricket in Spain and features an outstanding range of first-class cricket facilities ideal for hosting teams and staging tournaments – including the continent’s only European Cricket Performance Centre.
ECL 19 will feature sides from Dreux (France), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Svanholm (Denmark), Bremen (Germany), St. Petersburg (Russia), Brescia (Italy) and Cluj (Romania). Teams will be split into two groups of four with matches being played on a round-robin basis, with the top two from each progressing to contest the semi-finals and final.
The first league will be limited to eight champion clubs from official ICC member federations, but event organisers plan to increase the number of qualified teams in the coming years.
Daniel Weston, founder of the European Cricket League, and who plays for the German national cricket team, said: “We are delighted to have La Manga Club on board as the official venue partner for the Champions League of cricket in Europe.
“Featuring southern Europe's best cricket facilities, the resort is the perfect destination for cricket fans and champion clubs to combine world-class cricket and entertainment in equal measure.
“There has never been a European-wide league of this nature and it’s our desire to make the ECL the flagship competition in Continental Europe. The team behind the league has vast experience of organising and promoting events of this nature to a global broadcast audience, and we can’t wait to get started.”
La Manga Club’s European Cricket Performance Centre has been designed to help international teams, counties, schools and colleges, as well as assisting with the development of players and coaches. Its extensive facilities include six first-class grass pitches and two artificial wickets on two existing grounds, plus 23 grass and five artificial net lanes – all with 25-yard run-ups.
In addition, there are also specialist grass fielding, catching and wicket-keeping areas and, with the final phase of the centre having been completed this winter with its new grass pitches now fully bedded in, La Manga Club is already attracting significant interest with Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire all confirmed to visit ahead of the start of the new season.
Also the official overseas training base of the Lawn Tennis Association, La Manga Club’s unrivalled other facilities include three 18-hole golf courses, a 28-court tennis centre and a 2,000sqm Wellness Centre. It also offers the choice of a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments and more than 15 bars and restaurants.
For more information on the European Cricket League, please visit www.ecl.cricket/league