ECB ends contract with Stanford

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> ECB severed its ties with Twenty20 backer Allen Stanford after the Texas billionaire was accused by US regulators over an alleged multibillion dollar fraud

Updated: February 21, 2009 08:34 IST
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The England and Wales Cricket Board severed its ties with Twenty20 backer Allen Stanford on Friday after the Texas billionaire was accused by US regulators over an alleged multibillion dollar fraud.

Eight months after Stanford landed in a helicopter at Lord's to announce an annual series in the Caribbean involving England, the ECB canceled all contracts with immediate effect.

England had been set to participate in the Twenty20 event in Antigua for another four years as well as a four-team tournament at home in May. Neither will now take place.

"ECB was shocked by the charges filed against the Stanford organization and personnel earlier this week by the SEC," chief executive David Collier said. "Within minutes of the announcement, ECB determined to suspend any further discussions with Stanford and the board has now agreed to terminate the ECB's agreements with Stanford."

The ECB had been under pressure to act after its judgment in signing up for a $20 million winner-take-all match between England and a West Indies select team last November was questioned following the concerns over Stanford's dealings.

Some county teams had suggested ECB chairman Giles Clarke should consider his position in the wake of Tuesday's complaint in a Dallas Court by the United States' Securities and Exchange Commission against Stanford and three of his companies.

The agreements with Stanford were supposed to appease players unhappy at being unable to participate in the lucrative Indian Premier League and provide tournaments capable of rivaling the IPL's glamor and prize money.

But commentators questioned the morality of offering players such big prize money at a time when the global financial crisis was hitting fans and causing public outrage over bonus payments to already well remunerated executives in the financial industry.

And Stanford's personal conduct was criticized when he was filmed socializing with the wives and girlfriends of several England players in the stands.

The ECB said that the cancelations would not affect the payments it makes to the 18 English county sides, some of which attract such small crowds that they rely upon the money for a majority of their income.

The SEC alleges that about $8 billion of so-called certificates of deposit were effectively mis-sold to investors on the back of dubious promises of huge profits.

Stanford was found in Virginia on Thursday and served with the SEC complaint by FBI officials.

The ECB said the global financial crisis meant that it did not take account of Stanford's sponsorship money when setting its budget for 2009.

Stanford has reportedly yet to pay the West Indies Cricket Board a $3.5 million fee for November's Twenty20 tournament.

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