ECB order review of Stanford Series

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The Independent Online

The England and Wales Cricket Board are to review the $20m Stanford Super Series following a week of negative publicity, PA Sport understands.

American Sir Allen Stanford, who has bankrolled the five-year agreement of matches in the Caribbean, found it necessary to apologise for his behaviour during England's opening victory over Middlesex on Sunday after he was pictured in the stands with Emily Prior, wife of Matt Prior, on his lap and his arms around other wives and girlfriends.

The 58-year-old has access to all areas at his Coolidge ground and England's players have felt uneasy about him strolling into the dressing rooms on match days.

The Twenty20 tournament has also attracted criticism from England and Middlesex players for its poor floodlights and sluggish pitches.

ECB policy is to review all tours and events but there is arguably more urgency in this case because of the event's image, with English cricket's hierarchy known to be concerned.

As things stand, Stanford is lined up to be an increasing influence in English cricket.

He was invited to field a team in the English Premier League when initial drafts were drawn up in June and will fund an annual 20-over quadrangular at Lord's from next summer.

When the ECB agreed their multi-million-pound tie-ups with Stanford, they saw it as a benefit to various areas of domestic and international cricket.

The $3.5m given to the West Indies board each year is a sum significant enough to strengthen them at elite level and grass roots cricket in the region benefits from a new Chance to Shine programme, a replica of the successful British model.

From an English perspective, top players will now move onto a whole new pay scale if successful and the money pulled in by the ECB will filter down to counties to help improve drainage and erect floodlights.