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Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 14:05 UK

England bag 50m Twenty20 bonanza

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Stanford denies the 10m match is a gimmick

England have agreed to play five winner-takes-all 10m Twenty20 matches in the Caribbean after signing a deal with businessman Sir Allen Stanford.

The first match will be on 1 November against Stanford's Super Stars at Sir Allen's cricket ground in Antigua.

Winning players will receive 500,000 each, with another 1m split between the rest of the squad and coaches.

The remaining 3.5m will be divided between the England and West Indies Cricket Boards.

It is believed to be the richest team prize for a single sporting match. The deal will be for five years with a match being held annually in November.

Moores enthusiastic over Twenty20 plan

England coach Peter Moores said players were happy with the deal and denied there had been a split in the camp.

He added their mental strength would be tested in a different way because of the amount of money involved, although he did not expect there to be issues if established players were left out of the side in place of up-and-coming stars.

"It will be a different sort of pressure for all the players. It is such an exciting time to be involved in the game," Moores said.

"In modern sport you realise that players get paid differently and you get paid for what you earn the right to. It's quite a ruthless business."

Sir Allen, 58, a Texas-born billionaire who first made his fortune in real estate in the 1980s, arrived at Lord's for the announcement by private helicopter, landing on the nursery ground.

The glitzy launch was attended by a number of past cricket stars including Sir Ian Botham, Sir Viv Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Curtly Ambrose and Nasser Hussain. And during the event, $20m (10m) in cash was brought on to the stage to highlight the serious amount of money involved.

The agreement is part of Sir Allen's ongoing initiative to try and reverse the decline of West Indies cricket.

He has been bankrolling a local Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean since 2006, with $2m prize money on offer, and the Stanford Super Stars will be made up of these players.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Jonathan Agnew

"It is one night, winner-takes-all $20m," said Sir Allen, who also believes that Twenty20 cricket could replace football as the biggest game in world sport in less than 10 years.

"Twenty20 is what's going to grab the TV revenue and it's the future of sport, make no mistake about that. This (series) will expose the sport to a whole different market that has never seen cricket, nor would they be interested to see the game via a Test-match series.

"You have to remember T20 was born right here in England, I didn't invent it, the English invented it.

"We are working with the England and Wales Cricket Board to take it to another level. They are, in my opinion, the best drivers going into the future for all of us to benefit from.

"We had to create something that had never been done before and take cricket to the previous level in the Caribbean, we have not been running our sport at a professional level."

PRIZE FUND COMPARISONS
10m - Stanford Twenty20
2.5m - Champions League
995,000 - World Cup
600,000 - IPL winners
42,000 - Twenty20 Cup winners

Sir Allen, who also supports golf tournaments in the USA, including last week's Stanford St Jude championship, polo and sailing, first offered a $5m (2.5m) one-off winner-takes-all match to South Africa but it came to nothing because of scheduling problems.

He then tried to entice India and doubled the prize money but they also refused.

ECB chief executive David Collier confirmed the matches would be sanctioned by the International Cricket Council but would not be given official status.

Collier said: "It is wonderful to have such a warm endorsement from Sir Allen and it is testament to what we have been trying to do in the game."




see also
Swann hails 'cricket revolution'
11 Jun 08 |  Cricket
Talks continue on England series
19 May 08 |  Cricket
England set for lucrative series
19 May 08 |  Cricket
England close to Twenty20 revamp
25 Apr 08 |  England


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