Lancashire have thrown their support behind plans to bring external investment into The Hundred but chair Andy Anson says extending the length of the tournament would be a red line for the Red Rose.
Consultations over changes to the ownership model are ongoing between the England and Wales Cricket Board, the 18 first-class counties and MCC, with a vote due in the new year.
The ECB currently owns all eight teams outright and rents the venues but is ready to transfer a controlling stake to the host counties, allowing them to sell shares to new investors and create a fresh income stream for both the competition and the wider domestic game.
Discussions have also taken place over the structure of the competition, with options including growing to 10 or 12 teams or involving all 18 teams by creating a second division.
Lancashire are keen to take control of Manchester Originals – who play at Emirates Old Trafford – but are against the two-division plan and have made it clear that The Hundred must not be given any more time in the calendar than the three weeks it currently has in August.
“I can confirm discussions have taken place between all first-class counties and the ECB regarding transfer of controlling interest in The Hundred teams to the host venues. As a board we are supportive of this,” Anson said in a statement on the club’s YouTube channel.
“It is in Lancashire Cricket’s best interests to have greater control of Manchester Originals.
“This would mean we can drive the team as a commercial entity. I was also very concerned about the level of central costs of the ECB associated with The Hundred: they were too high and we believe the operating model was sub-optimal.
“As a board we have clear preference for a way forward. We do support transfer of a controlling equity stake of Manchester Originals to Lancashire Cricket.
“We see Manchester Originals as separate to Lancashire and in no way as a replacement for Lancashire in the different formats.
“We would be very concerned that a two-tier Hundred would prevent Lancashire playing as the Red Rose during the month of August and this would not be acceptable.
“We would not accept any expansion to the window in the schedule allocated to the Hundred, even if the number of teams expanded.
“We therefore support a single division solution, with expansion only if it can fit into the existing time window.”
Durham chief executive Tim Bostock this week told the PA news agency that he was “100 per cent committed” to bringing a ninth Hundred team to the north east and would be ready to proceed in time for the 2025 season.