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Stanford has left ECB on a sticky wicket

cricket Updated: Feb 23, 2009 00:27 IST
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The unravelling of Allen Stanford’s business empire may have come as a shock to the officials of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), but to most others, it was an accident waiting to happen.

Stanford did pump some much-needed funds in West Indies cricket and that bought him the confidence of those who ran West Indies cricket. So, when he proposed a T20 tournament for a purse of $20 million, the West Indies board gave its backing.

The proposal backed by the WICB was on the ICC’s table for the past few years. It wasn’t getting through because a majority of the Test member countries were wondering how they would get a share of the prize money offered since Stanford had made it clear that it was a ‘winners take all’ contest and if his team, the Stanford All Stars won, they would keep the 20 million.

He was of course ready to pay an appearance fee to the boards whose teams would be playing in the contest. The main argument of the majority of the member countries was that apart from Australia, England and India no other team would get invited simply because they were not big box office draws.

When the IPL took off in a spectacular manner, Stanford realised he would be marginalized. With the WICB in his pocket, he approached the ECB which was at loggerheads with the BCCI. It had already banned its players from playing in the IPL and it was planning an English Premier League to rival the IPL. The ECB signed a five-year deal with Stanford where its team would play against the Stanford All Stars.

On a high after the deal, the ECB thumbed its nose at the BCCI and even refused to be a founding member of the Champions League which could have earned it around $100 million a year. The Stanford deal was to get the ECB seventeen-and-half million over five years. Who did the maths there is anybody’s guess, but there’s no doubt that the media will demand answers.