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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

ECB suspends talks with Stanford

Sir Allen Stanford
Stanford has invested millions into cricket in the Caribbean

The England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended sponsorship negotiations with Sir Allen Stanford after the Texan billionaire was charged with fraud.

Stanford and three of his companies are accused of alleged fraud involving a multi-billion dollar investment scheme.

The ECB has a five-year deal to play games against the Stanford Superstars.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke said his organisation was now weighing up the possibility of utilising get-out clauses in its agreement with Stanford.

"Clearly that is a matter we would consider," he told reporters before suggesting that the proposed quadrangular Twenty20 series in England in May was now unlikely to happen.

"We will clearly consider that situation, but we have suspended negotiations so there is a strong possibility it will not take place."

In June 2008, the ECB agreed to play five winner-takes-all Twenty20 matches in the Caribbean after signing a deal with Stanford.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke's reaction

The first of those took place on 1 November, with England losing comprehensively to the Stanford Superstars, who netted $20m (12.4m).

Massive publicity surrounded the Super Series, but there was also huge criticism from some quarters, with ex-ECB chief Lord McLaurin labelling it a "pantomime" and "obscene".

There were also complaints about the standard of the pitch as well as the floodlights, while Stanford was forced to apologise after being pictured during one of the game sitting with the wife of England wicket-keeper Matt Prior on his lap.

Asked whether getting into a business relationship with Stanford could now be construed as a mistake by the ECB, Clarke said: "We had the best of intentions, so yes."

The ECB carried out due diligence prior to making their long-term agreement with Stanford last summer.

"He was conducting a banking operation, which, at the time, based on the information from the work that was done, showed no indication that there was anything that could prevent him from paying his obligations," said Clarke.

"We did what we did because we believed we were doing the right thing to raise funds for West Indies cricket and, indeed, our own game."

The BBC's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew suggested the ECB's involvement with Stanford had been a huge mistake.

"This whole business since the day he arrived in his helicopter at Lord's has been rather vulgar," he said.

"If he is found to be guilty then there will be questions raised about the integrity of the ECB and this alliance with him.

"But the West Indies side of things will feel a much greater impact than back home. It is here where it will be most felt, with this benefactor who was offering them all sorts of rewards.

"It was a rather nasty business all the way through and a huge gamble to get involved with him anyway."

Stanford had been expected to become a major backer of the proposed English Premier League Twenty20 tournament from 2010.

He was also behind a quadrangular event, to run for three years from this May onwards and worth $9m between the competing teams.

But Clarke indicated that tournament, which was expected to feature England, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, was now in doubt.

"There must be serious questions as to whether that will take place," said Clarke. "There are a lot of legal and contractual issues which will have to be considered.

"We will be looking at the situation with a matter of emergency. There will be teams in the country for the World 20/20 Championships so we expect there will be games staged at Lord's - international teams are all coming over to England anyway."

Stanford interviewed last April about his vision for cricket

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Stanford, three of his companies and two of his business associates of "orchestrating a fraudulent, multi-billion dollar investment scheme centring on an $8bn dollar CD (certificate of deposit) programme".

A spokesman for Stanford Twenty20 declined to comment on the allegations.

The 58-year-old Stanford made his fortune in the 1980s in Houston real estate, before expanding his grandfather's Stanford Financial Group into a global financial services provider which now manages US$50bn worldwide.

Stanford, who holds Antigua citizenship and is said to be the second biggest employer on the island, has an estimated fortune of US$2bn.

Print Sponsor

see also
US tycoon charged over $8bn fraud
17 Feb 09 |  Americas
ECB committed to Stanford Series
09 Nov 08 |  England
ECB defends Stanford involvement
01 Nov 08 |  England
ECB plans Stanford Series review
29 Oct 08 |  England
Stanford plans global expansion
12 Jun 08 |  Cricket

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