SOMERSET County Cricket Club's points deduction has been reduced from 12 points to eight ahead of the 2021 County Championship season.

The club was handed a 12-point penalty in November 2019, after preparing a pitch marked as 'poor' for the Championship decider against Essex in September of that year.

The full punishment was a 24-point deduction, of which 12 were suspended for two years, but in July 2020 that sanction was rolled over until the 2021 season, due to the Championship being paused (and the Bob Willis Trophy played instead) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the four-day competition (now called the LV= Insurance County Championship) is due to return in 2021, it will not be in the customary 14-match, two division format.

The Championship will instead feature 10 group stage matches and four divisional matches for each county.

READ MORE: Revised County Championship format announced for 2021

With that in mind, Somerset CCC and the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) jointly requested the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC), which had imposed the sanction back in 2019, to reconsider the points penalty in light of the remodelled format.

Now a CDC panel has determined how the sanction will apply for the 2021 Championship, as follows: "A direct eight-point penalty will apply to the group phase of the 2021 LV= Insurance County Championship.

"If Somerset CCC commit any further breach of the Pitch Regulations in relation to the 2021 County Championship, in addition to any new sanction imposed, the panel will determine how the suspended points penalty will be applied."

It is understood that the currently suspended element relating to the 2022 season will need to be revisited once the format of that year's Championship is known.

Reacting to that news, Somerset CCC director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “Obviously we are pleased that the ECB has taken the decision to amend the sanction proportionately, in light of the new structure of the domestic season in 2021.

“We are grateful that we have clarity at this time and, with training going exceptionally well so far, everyone associated with the club is looking forward to what will hopefully be another successful year.”

Somerset chief executive Gordon Hollins added: “The club has been in dialogue with the ECB in recent weeks and the talks were constructive throughout.

"We are pleased that we can now put this matter behind us and focus on the forthcoming season.”

The announcement comes in the same week that two spin bowlers who came up through the Somerset CCC Academy, and went on to play at Taunton over the last five years - Dom Bess and Jack Leach - claimed 14 of the 20 Sri Lankan wickets as England won by seven wickets in Galle.