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Counties support ECB chief Clarke

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Clarke reflects on the latest Stanford developments

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke has the support of at least 11 of the 18 counties, BBC Radio Five Live has learned.

Clarke is under fire for entering into a deal with Sir Allen Stanford, who on Wednesday was charged with a $8bn (5.6bn) investment fraud in the US.

On Wednesday the chairmen of Hampshire and Leicestershire called for the 55-year-old Clarke to resign.

But Glamorgan, Durham and Middlesex have publicly backed Clarke.

As ECB chairman, Clarke struck a deal with Stanford to play five $20m matches, with plans in place for new 20-20 tournaments in England as well.

Leicestershire boss Neil Davidson calls for Clarke resignation

He was elected chairman for a second term just a matter of days ago, having ran unopposed after Lord Marland withdrew in January.

Leicestershire chairman Neil Davidson, a vocal opponent of Clarke's during his recent re-election campaign, told BBC Sport: "I think Giles was at the forefront of this deal which has not served English cricket well.

"The image of the game has been damaged, irrespective of whether Stanford is guilty of these charges or not.

"It was a very tacky episode in our cricketing history, with a helicopter landing at Lord's, a million dollars on show and the knee-bouncing incident in the West Indies, where we rented out the England cricket team.

Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove, who was critical of the ECB following the departures of Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores, also called for Clarke's resignation.

"He has lost his credibility as the leader of English cricket," Bransgrove told BBC Radio 5 Live.

MIHIR BOSE BLOG

"I don't think he has any option but to stand down. I can't see how he can lead, with any credibility, English cricket where it needs to go."

But Clarke has received the backing of Middlesex chairman Ian Lovett and Durham chairman Clive Leach, who argue it is easy to make judgments in hindsight.

Lovett told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I do not agree that Clarke's position is untenable.

"I can see why the deal was done and I certainly would not see it is a reason for Giles to resign now at a time when we need some stability."

His sentiments were echoed by Leach, who also sits on the ECB's cricket committee.

"Giles went ahead with this with a lot of people's knowledge, including the unanimous support of the board, as I understand it, and at the time it looked a good deal," said Leach.

"It is very easy to be clever after the affair but I am satisfied that enough was done at the time to go ahead with the deal."

Glamorgan chairman Paul Russell told BBC Wales: "I think the criticism [of Clarke] is very unfair and constructed with the considerable benefit of hindsight.

We all need to be conscious that we serve the game

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat

"The ECB is not a regulatory body and our due diligence was quite properly restricted to satisfying ourselves that the Stanford organisation was good for the money it had contracted to pay us.

"We came to the conclusion that they were and in fact that proved to be correct. Stanford does not owe the ECB or any county a penny - it's all been paid."

The ECB, in tandem with the West Indies Cricket Board, has suspended negotiations with Stanford as a result of the charges.

Defending the ECB's decision to create a business relationship with Stanford last year, Clarke told BBC Sport: "The Stanford organisation provided a great deal of money to West Indies cricket over the years by sponsoring tournaments.

"The West Indies Cricket Board thought it was very important to have the involvement and it encouraged our involvement with them (Stanford).

"We played our tournament last year and were paid the funds we were due and the players were paid. Now we'll be moving on."

But Lord Marland also believes Clarke could now be under pressure to quit.

Sir Allen Stanford and Giles Clarke
Clarke (right) greeted Stanford when his helicopter landed at Lord's

"In most other businesses, some people would resign if they had been involved in such a fiasco as this," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It is entirely up to Giles Clarke and (chief executive) David Collier what action they take."

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

But the event was dogged by negative stories. There were 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.

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.

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

The Serious Fraud Office has confirmed that it has made a 'few informal calls' into the possibility of a British link to the Stanford fraud investigation.

Archive: Stanford explains Wags incident

The SFO stressed no formal investigation or inquiry has started, but that " liaison contacts with other authorities" have been made.

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat warned that the Stanford case was a wake-up call for the game.

"There is a lesson to be learned for all of us," Lorgat told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I'm sure people would get tempted, the players more than anybody else, to be interested tin the dollar revenues they can earn out of it.

"We all need to be conscious that we serve the game - that rather than maximise revenues, we should be optimising revenues."

Lorgat added it was highly unlikely the ICC would step in and offer financial support to the West Indies Cricket Board.

"We look after 104 members, and each of them have to look after themselves," said Lorgat.

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see also
Colin Croft column
18 Feb 09 |  West Indies
US fraud charge tycoon disappears
19 Feb 09 |  Americas
ECB suspends talks with Stanford
18 Feb 09 |  England
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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