The Stanford meltdown February 18, 2009

Cricket counts the cost of Stanford crisis

Cricinfo staff

Allegations of fraud against Allen Stanford have embarassed the WICB and the ECB © The Nation

The cricket world has begun to assess the impact on its finances and credibility of the fraud charges levelled against Allen Stanford. The ECB and West Indies Cricket Board, the two boards most closely associated with Stanford, have suspended negotiations with him and indicated that domestic and international tournaments sponsored by him are at risk.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint on Tuesday in a federal court in Dallas accusing Stanford, who heads the Stanford Financial Group, of fraud in the sale of around US$8 billion of high-yielding certificates of deposits held in his organisation's bank in Antigua.

The crisis will have an immediate impact on some of the future tournaments organized by both the affected boards. The Stanford 20/20 regional series in West Indies is now unlikely to be held. Asked whether the tournament would go ahead, the WICB president Julian Hunte said: "We anticipate that it will not continue (in the immediate future)."

He then sought to play down the impact on the WICB. "That is not a difficult matter for us to deal with. Either the WICB on its own or with the assistance of other entrepreneurs, will be able to get a tournament going in a way that will make it financially viable for us."

However, the cancellation of the tournament will deal a significant financial blow to the authorities involved in its organisation. Forbes Persaud, chief executive of the Trinidad and Tobago board, said the immediate financial loss as a result of the cancellation would amount to US$195,000: "Now that this has happened, it would mean that we cannot really look forward to that [money] coming to us again," Persaud told the Trinidad and Tobago Express. "I know our boys were eagerly looking forward to playing in the tournament and the fact that they have frozen all his assets, it would mean that that would be the end of the tournament."

One T&T player, Rayad Emrit, said the loss of the Stanford 20/20 will impact West Indies cricket on the whole. "If the WICB have a tournament like this, it is probably not going to be at the same magnitude like this one," Emrit told the paper. "But on a whole it is important to have a regional (Twenty20) tournament."

A four-team quadrangular tournament due to take place in England, with West Indies, Sri Lanka and New Zealand also expected to participate, is under threat. "We will clearly consider that situation but, as we have suspended all negotiations, there is a strong possibility that will now not take place," Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, said.

Clarke is facing the brunt of the criticism of the ECB's proximity to Stanford, with calls for his resignation. Neil Davidson, the chairman of Leicestershire who strongly opposed Clarke during his re-election campaign, pinned the blame entirely on the ECB chairman. "We need to understand who knew what and who did what and that's an internal matter which we need to get to the bottom of," he told BBC Radio. "My understanding is that Giles was very much at the forefront of this deal." He added that Stanford's involvement with cricket rendered the sport "tacky" and felt the "wholesome image" of the England team was at stake in the wake of the crisis.

The WICB was more defensive in its reaction to the Stanford saga, refraining from "passing any judgement" and insisting that though this constituted a setback it did not threaten the existence or the functioning of the board. "I don't want to pass any judgement," Hunte told the Trinidad and Tobago Express. "I don't like to kick a man when he's down. What we know is that as we speak, his license has been suspended. To all intents and purposes, the West Indies Cricket Board is not dependent on Stanford for its financial viability."

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  • SachinIsTheGreatest on February 19, 2009, 12:54 GMT

    @SRTRDXSCG,you are right. The real issue when something like this happens is about the people who lost their life's earnings. All because of scumbags. I hope Stanford pays the price for that.

  • seennoonkaaf on February 19, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    Would the tournament be called 'tacky' had the ECB's players pocketed 20 million quid? There is no point trying to hang Clarke for not doing his due-diligence while going with the Stanford model - remember, even the SEC didn't move against the guy till earlier this week. But Clarke should definitely step down - not for pushing through the Stanford deal, but for letting him land his helicopter on the Cricket Mekkah's pitch! Salman

  • DeepBackwardSquare on February 19, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    hahahahahaha. Neil Davidson Leicestershire chairman must have a terrific sense of humour. England and 'wholesome' in the same sentence... highlight of my day so far.........

  • elsmallo on February 19, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    So, the argument is that because administrators/politicos etc. in UK and W.I. were taken in by Stanford, it is all their fault? It's all very well now speaking with the wisdom of hindsight. You have to remember that the financial situation was different when these deals were made. Financial tycoons didn't come with mandatory flashing 'warning' lights over their heads. The game in W.I. was short of cash and initiative. The ECB's stance was less forgivable. Frankly, the stuff they planned in the UK looked awful and I'm glad it now looks unlikely. But the W.I. Stanford 20/20 did a fair bit at least in getting locals interested and teaching the authorities there (hopefully) a bit about format and marketing. It also looked profitable - surely it's not too much to hope that someone else will pick up the idea and run with it. Shame they had to be ours.

  • Shan--IND on February 19, 2009, 2:46 GMT

    its so lame of my fellow english friends to feel that this comments reflect BCCI attitude...

    Indian fans hate BCCI to the same extend as the outsiders...

    We follow Team INDIA religiously & r interested in jus them...

    BCCI means nothing to us... And we r not interested in its policies, actions... And feel in no way related to it...

    So the next time plz understand: for Indian fans BCCI & Team INDIA r too different entities...

  • Mumbai.Indian on February 19, 2009, 1:22 GMT

    Let's agree that every one involved in cricket is hungry for more and more bucks...rightly has been middle class sport for so long. But what this episode has highlighted is, while BCCI was methodical and profession in earning the bucks, ECB was not. They were desperate fools who lost their minds behind Stanford's tail. Instead of tying with multiple businesses, they were prepared to sell their sport to one single tycoon. No wonder ECB is caught in this typhoon!

  • aquamartino on February 18, 2009, 22:20 GMT

    20 M per game for 5 games i think he can easily afford it. The kind of marketing he did just from that is worth more. He reached out to every corner of the world. The SAD thing is that ECB and WICB could not spot that because of the money on for offer. But then they saw is unprofessional behaviour with players wives and they still continued to discuss future deals. With a man of no dignity. This is guy is gonna be behind bars big time.

  • cys123 on February 18, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    Stanford came as a bailout to players who wanted to buy house for themselves, parents, land, sick parents and relatives and more. When 20/20 started in WI I was happy for the game here yes but always say too good to be true then all the islands were involved some couldn't even hold a cricket bat yet they still were rewarded with big money. That man came to Ant & Bar to buy out and yes he did. Some of these politicians were too licky licky. I hope those guys all cashed and cleared their cheques. Stanford still owes Jamaica Cricket Board $150,000 US for what I dont know I heard this on the news last night. Micheal Holding was smart he never enter Stanford drama and excitements. The legends were there I guess they need the money too. A picture in Today's gleaner/Observer in Jamaica had ViV, Stan, and Julian looking at a box of Millions Viv eyes looked so catched. I hope he overcome these troubles.

  • SRTRDXSCG on February 18, 2009, 19:22 GMT

    Lets not forget that this is beyond cricket and lot of people are going to be affected. Cricket is all but a game and no one will get really hurt if there are not going to be Stanford sponsored games. Cricketers will find work/money in alternate avenues (IPL,ICL, Intl. Cricket) as will all cricket administrators involved.

    Spare a thought for the investors and common people who have their money in Stanford companies either in stock or deposits. If what I hear is correct, Stanford companies employ 5% of work force in Antigua. Thats huge in my opinion. Lets stop cribbing about ECB, WICB and how no one knew this was coming. Cricket is all but a small tiny part of this whole issue, there are lot more important things than sport that will be affected because of this.

  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on February 18, 2009, 18:53 GMT

    It is Alarming to note the coverage this trifling issue is attracting. Clearly it sows the Prudence exercised by the BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South africa who did not want any dealings with Stanford. It only affects the ECB, which has been blighted by Clarke and his inept governance and under whom England have frittered away the advantage from being challengers to the throne, post Ashes 2005, to being swept aside by a West Indies side that has struggled against all. Can't Play, Can't Govern....but can certainly turn to wrong people to ensure India did not steal the show with its own Twenty20. Glad that CA and Cricket South Africa have seen it wiser than to follow the misguided and erroneous judgments of the ECB.

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