The England and Wales Cricket Board are searching for a major new sponsor, after Cheltenham & Gloucester announced their decision to terminate their backing for domestic cricket's premier one-day trophy from the end of the coming season.

Although the announcment from C&G, partners since 2001, suggests that the decision reflects new "marketing objectives", The Birmingham Post understands that the sponsors were distinctly underwhelmed by the changes brought in for this year's competition.

The C&G Trophy has effectively been downgraded and mumbles from the sponsors suggest they were unimpressed by a lack of consultation from the ECB.

In previous years, the C&G Trophy was a knock-out competition; often referred to as 'the FA Cup of cricket'. Each match was important and each one created a sense of excitement among supporters and players.

No longer. Now the competition will be organised within a two-league format with the winners of each contesting a final at Lord's more than two months after the final league match.

The league stages will be held in early summer, when the risk of weather interference is at its highest and competition from other sports at its strongest.

Furthermore, the sponsors were previously assured of cross-country coverage by the invovement of the minor counties. They have been excluded, however, reducing the relevance of the matches to a huge portion of the country. Gone, too, is the fascinating possibility of a 'giant-killing'.

Sponsors were also disappointed that England players were withdrawn from semi-final action last season. Despite previous assurances, Ian Bell and Ashley Giles were at Edgbaston to watch Warwickshire's stirring defeat of Lancashire but the insistence of Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, that his Ashes squad rest between matches undoubtedly robbed the match of some of its credibility and lustre.

The sponsors' disaffection for the competition is likely to be mirrored by spectators. The league format will result in many 'dead' matches (between sides who have no hope of qualifying for the final), in turn resulting in dwindling attendances.

The aim of the alterations is to have more 50-over cricket. Equally, however, the Pro40 League could have rebranded as a 50-over league while retaining the knock-out nature of the C&G.

The Ashes success has raised the profile of cricket in this country. It should be easier to locate new sponsors. County cricket is not in such a robust state, however, that it can risk alienating its loyal friends. The lack of consultation with partners and spectators is disturbing. County members, the bedrock of support, financial and otherwise, for the game, have again been treated with disdain.

The only consolation is that, so bad are the plans that they will surely be reversed within a decade.