Future of Twenty20 April 15, 2008

Stanford to propose '$20 million match'

Cricinfo staff

Allen Stanford has put millions of dollars into his tournament © Stanford 20/20
Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire behind Stanford 20/20, is expected to offer US$20 million for a one-off, winner-takes-all fixture between England and an All-Stars West Indies XI, when he meets the ECB at Lord's on Tuesday to discuss possible joint ventures.

According to the BBC, Stanford's idea would be for the match to take place on England's tour of the Caribbean next winter, although he has already made similar offers to both South Africa and India, and had them rejected. With the Indian Premier League just three days away, however, the ECB are eager to react to the game's changing landscape.

"Allen Stanford is an individual who is extremely wealthy and really doesn't take no for an answer," the veteran West Indian commentator, Tony Cozier, told BBC Sport. "He will come in and put forward a proposal that he will feel cannot be turned down, but I understand Giles Clarke is similar [in character] so we will see."

Clarke, the ECB chairman, has already talked about the creation of an English Premier League (EPL) to run during the middle of the domestic season when most international teams have time off. The hope is that the tournament would be able to attract overseas stars the same way as the IPL and in turn ward off the threat of English players jumping ship.

"We don't want a knee-jerk reaction to the IPL," said Clarke, "but we believe that we can set up a robust, spectator-friendly, economically sustainable competition of our own which will not cut across the core revenue streams of Test and one-day international cricket."

Stanford could be a useful ally for the ECB as he has already shown his ability to set up and run a successful Twenty20 tournament then sell it overseas. Stanford is keen on multiple franchise tournaments and Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, has said an EPL would be welcome if it didn't clash with the Indian version.

Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, told the Press Association: "Looking at all options is pure commercial commonsense. There is no proof yet that the global TV market is strong enough to have a lot of different leagues," he said. "But it is genuinely achievable to make it attractive for everyone to play in.

"If we have got the right format and scheduling that will be an attractive product to the wider TV audience and that is where most of the money will come from. Half-a-billion pairs of watching eyes is also appealing to outside investment."

Kevin Pietersen, who has made no secret of the fact he would love to play in the IPL, was encouraged by the sound of the idea. "Until I hear more about Stanford and his proposals I cannot comment," he told AFP, "but it sounds great, very exciting for players and spectators."

He would not be drawn on the Indian issue again. " "I have said all I am going to say about the IPL. I am not going to get into a slanging match with the people who employ me. I do not want to jeopardise my England career. All I ever asked for was some space to play both."

Clarke, along with David Collier, the ECB chief executive, and John Perera, the commercial director, are due to attend the launch of the IPL later this week where they will hold talks with Modi.