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Exclusionary Power in Sports Organisations: The Merger Between the Women’s Cricket Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board

This paper contributes to existing literature on gender equity within sporting organisations, focusing on the merger between the Women’s Cricket Association (WCA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board in 1998. At the time of the merger those involved in the WCA debated whether the merger would be positive for the future of the women’s game. In this paper we discuss the impact of the merger on the women’s role in the governance of their sport through the views of 10 women who were involved in playing, administrating, managing or coaching cricket during the time of the merger. The interviewees’ experiences are located within wider debates about power, gender and sport. We specifically draw on the concept of exclusionary power to highlight how gender inequities continue to impact upon the management and organisation of women’s cricket in England. Our participants’ testimonies suggest that since the merger, the game has unquestionably benefited from increased financial support. This has significantly boosted the elite development of the game. However, since the merger the role of women has changed. They now have limited power over the organisation and development of both elite and grassroots levels of play. This paper therefore contributes to existing research on gender relations and sporting organisations, such as the work of Stronach and Adair ((2009) ‘Brave new world’ or ‘sticky wicket’? Women, management and organizational power in Cricket Australia. Sport in Society 12(7): 910–932) and Sibson ((2010) “I Was Banging My Head against a Brick Wall”: Exclusionary power and the gendering of sport organisations. Journal of Sport Management 24: 379–399), by further applying the concept of exclusionary power to understanding gender relations within a UK sports context.