Stanford to clarify cricket commitment in January
Texan billionaire Allen Stanford is to give fresh details of his commitment to cricket in January following reports he was pulling the plug on his multi-million dollars investment in the sport.cricket Updated: Dec 18, 2008 21:09 IST
Texan billionaire Allen Stanford is to give fresh details of his commitment to cricket in January following reports he was pulling the plug on his multi-million dollars investment in the sport.
Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said Tuesday that Stanford was pulling out of cricket after losing 40 million dollars on his million-dollar-a-man winner-takes-all match and associated series.
Stanford, the report added, was now poised to end his five-year-deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after just a year.
His financial backing for West Indies cricket would also be terminated, the report said, adding he had axed his ambassadorial board of legends for the Super Series, including former West Indies captain Viv Richards, on Tuesday - something which his spokeswoman later confirmed.
Stanford is expected to fund the Twenty20 for 20 - as is his million dollars a-man for each member of the winning side match is known - for a further four years, and bankroll the England Premier League Twenty20 tournament from 2010 as well as set up an annual four-team event at Lord's.
And in a statement issued late by his organisation, Stanford pledged to continue working with the ECB.
"Contrary to some recent negative press speculation, in relation to Stanford's broader involvement with cricket and specifically the future of the Stanford 20/20 for 20, the Quadrangular Tournament at Lord's and the English Premier League, Sir Allen reaffirmed his desire to continue to work with the England and Wales Cricket Board and discussions are currently ongoing between Stanford 20/20 LLC and the ECB.
"Sir Allen confirmed that it was his intention to announce the programme for 2009 and beyond by the end of January 2009."
This was the first time Stanford had publicly confirmed his backing of the English Premier League Twenty20 competition, an event which the ECB hopes will rival the money-spinning Indian Premier League (IPL).
But while a scaling down of his cricket activities would hurt the ECB, it would be a far bigger blow to cash-strapped Caribbean cricket in the authorities if the long-standing Antigua resident stopped funding of as much as 200,000 dollars per territory per year.
The Daily Mail reported Stanford had made heavy losses after paying his victorious Stanford Superstars team 20 million dollars for the Twenty20 showdown against England in Antigua last month, while another 20 million dollars has been tied up in television and sponsorship deals connected to the event.
Stanford hoped the Super Series would help cricket crack the US market, although there was little evidence it did so, while the ECB saw the series as a way to forestall the exit of leading players for lucrative IPL engagements.
But his high-profile presence at the Antigua match caused unease and he was forced to apologise after he was pictured with the wife of England wicket-keeper Matt Prior sitting on his knee.
However, the Twenty20 series was credited with helping to encourage a sense of professionalism among a group of West Indian cricketers who last month thrashed England by 10 wickets at Stanford's own ground in Antigua.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke, who brokered the agreement with Stanford, was criticised for doing a deal with someone who admitted he found Tests "boring".
And the sight of Stanford launching his series in June by landing in a private helicopter at Lord's before unveiling a box filled with 20 million dollars' worth of banknotes proved hard for many traditionalists to stomach.
Several sponsorships of English cricket, however, are about to come to an end and Vodafone, the England team sponsor, announced Tuesday they would end their four million pounds-a-year backing in 2010.