Twenty20 plans left in tatters after ECB severs ties with Stanford

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The Independent Online

English cricket last night severed all ties with Sir Allen Stanford, and his business. The Texan billionaire has been charged in connection with an alleged $9.2 billion (£6.4bn) fraud, although he denies all charges.

An England and Wales Cricket Board statement announced that it was terminating all contracts with the Stanford group. The decision, made at yesterday’s meeting of the ECB executive committee held at Lord’s, means there will be no further Stanford Twenty20 cricket jamborees in Antigua and an end to the $20m winner takes all matches – four more had been talked about – which saw Stanford’s West Indies All Stars triumph over England last November.

It also confirms that the proposed $9.5m quadrangular Twenty20 tournament involving England, a Stanford West Indies All Stars side, New Zealand and Sri Lanka set for May at Lord’s, will not now take place. The quadrangular events had been scheduled for the next three years up to and including 2011.

In yesterday’s statement from the ECB, the chief executive David Collier said: “[The] ECB was shocked by the charges filed against the Stanford organisation and personnel earlier this week by the SEC. Within minutes of the announcement, [the] ECB determined to suspend any further discussions with Stanford and the board has now agreed to terminate the ECB’s agreements with Stanford.”

But Collier was able to reassure the 18 first-class counties that the severing of the Stanford tie-up will have no effect on their annual fee payments made by the ECB. The counties had been given notice that their 2009 monies would be safeguarded in a communication from Collier on Thursday. Yesterday’s announcement merely served to confirm this fact. Collier explained: “Given the uncertainty of the financial markets and the sponsorship dispute between Digicel and the West Indies Cricket Board over the matches in Antigua in 2008, the executive committee and the board, when setting the 2009 budgets, took a prudent position in creating a contingency in case the Antigua matches did not proceed.” David East, the chief executive of Essex and a member of the executive committee, highlighted the counties’ reliance on central funding and said: “The communication from [the] ECB yesterday that the termination of the Stanford agreements would not negatively impact our fee payments was a great relief to all counties.

“The further confirmation allows counties to move forward with their 2009 budgets given that. A solid income base through the ECB fee payments is critical to all counties.”