James Lawton: What possessed the sport to embrace a man like Stanford?

The charge against the man who earlier this year was feted at Lord’s as the saviour of cricket, and was paraded around the old place with his chest of what may now prove to be distinctly dubious dollars, is alleged to be of shocking magnitude.

Sir Allen Stanford should not, however, be the only one heading for the dock. Not, anyway, if the court of public opinion can make an indictable offence of extreme irresponsibility by those who are entrusted with running the game once described as the foundation of the British Empire.

In the wake of yesterday’s statement by the US Securities and Exchange Committee, the England Cricket Board was naturally quick to say that they had run exhaustive checks on the Texas billionaire who lured the England team to a circus of Twenty20 pyjama cricket in the Caribbean in November. Stanford was rebuked for the tacky quality of his competition, and also for the “inappropriate” attention he paid to wives and girlfriends of the team.

However, such concerns did not prevent the ECB and the West Indian Cricket Board ruling body from maintaining close links with a man who has made public his “hatred” of Test cricket. Yesterday, negotiations for a massive sponsorship deal were, naturally, frozen, but not before a huge question was raised in the minds of many British sports-lovers.

It could be framed bluntly enough: Does anyone really care how much national sport is sold off – and to whom?

Ironically the latest disaster for ECB public relations comes just a few days after the one man to stand against reigning chairman Giles Clarke and his policies, the former Conservative treasurer and MCC member Lord Marland, decided to withdraw his candidacy. He did so not because he felt the need for a breath of fresh air at Lord’s had in any way lessened during the course of his brief and passionately argued campaign. No, it was because a third of the English counties who vote into power the game’s administrators decided that they were perfectly content with the current leadership.

This was despite the embarrassing meltdown evident in the sacking of England team captain Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores, and the continued dalliance with Stanford and his uncharted billions.

Now the unchallenged status of Clarke is casting fresh doubt about the ability of English sport properly to administer itself.

In a Premier League of football so heavily colonised by foreign investment there is something described touchingly as the “fit and proper persons” tests. This, in theory, is supposed to run a vigorous |examination of the suitability of potential owners of English clubs.

Some critics believe that Russian oligarch Roman Ambramovich’s whirlwind takeover of Chelsea was swept through with insufficient attention to the source of his wealth. The worry was redoubled when Thaksin Shinawatra, former prime minister of Thailand, was welcomed as owner of Manchester City despite the fact that he faced charges of financial misconduct back in Bangkok and the criticism of human rights groups, including Amnesty.

Objections to the move were dismissed by the Premier League, many supporters of the famous old club and the chief executive Garry Cook, who announced that Shinawatra was a good man with whom to share a round of golf.

Similarly dismissive noises were made in cricket when some traditionalists objected to the vulgarity of Stanford’s arrival at Lord’s in a helicopter bearing his great chest of neatly piled and seductive dollars.

There was an obligation to move with the times, the critics were told. Twenty20 generated vast revenue in India, it was the future. Stanford was seen as English cricket’s ally against the growth of the Indian cricket empire. No matter that the subtleties of the game may be beyond him, that the meaning of cricket’s past was of no consequence. He had what everyone wanted. He had oodles of money.

That, despite the third-rate nature of his cricket circus, meant he was not a man to be discounted when the future of the game was weighed.

Yesterday’s freezing of his assets, and announcement of his impending prosecution, provoked a degree of reappraisal. Stanford was suddenly, and for the foreseeable future, not a man to be courted. He was a huge embarrassment. But then where did the shame, from the perspective of English cricket, really lie?

It was, surely, with those who embraced him with no more restraint than the cargo worshippers who waited to see what the tide would bring. English cricket knows now. It is the latest evidence that cricket may have put a price on everything – and quite forgotten the value of its own integrity.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Chastain during an interview in Los Angeles.
filmsOscar hopeful Jessica Chastain reveals the secret to her breakthrough success
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
news
Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker