Board backs me, says Collier

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The Independent Online

Any prospect of resignations over the Stanford Affair receded further yesterday. Both the men largely responsible for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s contentious deal reiterated that they were staying put.

Giles Clarke, the chairman, said the issue was now historical and David Collier, the chief executive, insisted that the proper checks had been made. The ECB severed their links with the Texan billionaire Allen Stanford after he was accused last week of an $8bn (£5.6bn) investment fraud.

While Clarke and Collier again defended their positions, Kevin Pietersen, England captain at the time the highly controversial $20m Twenty20 match played last November, described Stanford as “a sleazebag”. When it was first announced that Stanford was said by the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission to have “perpetrated a massive fraud based on false promises” both Clarke and Collier were under enormous pressure to leave the posts. Both have steadfastly refused to do so.

Clarke, who is in Barbados, said in one newspaper yesterday that it was time to move on. Collier, appearing on BBC Five Live’s Sportsweek, said: “Members of the board have been phoning to say we have full confidence and you must carry on.”

Although there were many reservations by objective observers at the time the deal was struck last June, Collier continued to maintain that they could not have foreseen the problems.

He said: “I’ve certainly looked back and said, ‘Would we have been able to do things differently’, and I believe that as professionals we went through all the correct contract procedures. Clearly the board correctly signed off all of the agreements. I believe therefore that I could not have done more.”

Neither of the ECB’s chief officers has offered apology or contrition for the mess and most of the counties seem intent on keeping the £50,000 each received as a result of the Stanford deal. The ECB had agreed with Stanford to play a Twenty20 match annually for five years, worth $20m in prize money, as well as a quadrangular T20 at Lord’s each summer. Both have now been cancelled.

“There are always risks when you try and move things on and this one wasn’t a good move,” said Collier. “I don’t think we got it badly wrong, but with the benefit of huge hindsight we’d not have entered into the agreement.”

Although Neil Davidson, the chairman of Leicestershire, sustained his calls for resignation it seems that both Clarke and Collier will stay put.

In his newspaper column, Pietersen, who had a lucrative personal contract with Stanford to promote the Twenty20 for Twenty match said: “Stanford was a sleazebag. I was very uncomfortable with the whole Stanford thing. It was not that I was captain, it was the uncomfortable situation of everybody thinking the England team had been sold. With the financial state of the world, people were talking about money instead of cricket.” They still are.

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