Stanford 20/20 for 20 November 5, 2008

WICB hits out at Hall comments

The relationship between the WICB and Allen Stanford's 20/20 management remained strained © Getty Images
The already strained relations between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the Stanford 20/20 organisation are near breaking point after a verbal broadside by the WICB on both Wes Hall, a Stanford 20/20 director and a one-time WICB president, and the Stanford group itself.

In a statement following its board meeting in Antigua on Sunday, the WICB "expressed shock and amazement" at comments reportedly made by Hall at a recent press conference that the Stanford board was frustrated over the use of its funding by the WICB.

The WICB called Hall's remarks "reckless, baseless and grossly inaccurate".

It added that the board "regretted that its former chairman was associated with such a gross misrepresentation of the facts which are that the Stanford Group has been woefully short on its promise to facilitate cricket development in the Caribbean".

It "challenged Hall to deny that several national cricket associations and pro-teams which were set up across the region, as part of the Stanford cricket development programme, have had to abandon their development plans because of the decision of the Stanford board to suspend its funding of cricket development as of October, 2008".

The WICB said that no explanation had been provided to these pro-teams for the suspension of their cricket development programme.

Stanford 20/20 established the pro-teams in six territories earlier this year but they were subsequently disbanded. It addressed the issue of its funding to territorial boards in a media statement last May 12.

It noted that in its initial year, each territorial board received US$100,000 as "start-up money" to prepare players and upgrade facilities. The following year, each board got US$15,000 a month as part of the Stanford 20/20 development programme.

The decision to suspend the funding was taken by the Stanford board in November 2007 "as a result of a lack of accountability by some of the territorial boards".

It said it opted to resume funding "by way of a restructured disbursement scheme in order to ensure a higher level of accountability".

It added that some territorial boards did not have their accounts for Stanford money in "a satisfactory manner". Once this was achieved, it said, they would submit bills not exceeding US$5,000 per month to Stanford 20/20 to be paid.

At the same time, it declared that Allen Stanford and the West Indies 'legends' who make up the 20/20 board "have never wavered in their dedication to ensuring that West Indies cricket rises from the regrettable state it has reached" and said that Stanford had already dedicated in excess of US$80 million towards this.

The WICB's censure of Hall came three days after the Stanford Super Series in Antigua in which the Stanford All-Stars beat England in the feature US$20 million winner-takes-all match and Trinidad and Tobago, the Stanford 20/20 regional champions, beat Middlesex, the England Twenty20 champions, for the purse of US$400,000.

The tournament was almost wrecked when Digicel, the principal sponsors of West Indies cricket, won its case against the WICB in the London International Court of Arbitration arguing that its exclusive rights had been compromised by the Stanford Super Series.

Stanford indicated that he held the WICB responsible for the controversy. The tournament only went ahead after a last-minute agreement between Denis O'Brien, the head of Digicel, and Stanford.

Although in Antigua at the time for their own board meeting, leading WICB officials were noticeably absent from Saturday night's match.

In Tuesday's statement, the WICB confirmed that it had received US$2 million from the Stanford group for sanctioning it as the official sponsor of the regional 20/20 tournament in 2006 and 2008 but accused Hall of giving a contrary impression.

That contract was signed by WICB president Julian Hunte last June 10. Hunte said then that it complemented the agreement reached in London at the same time between the WICB, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Stanford 20/20 endorsing the Stanford Super Series.

He estimated that, together, they would be worth US$33.5 million to the WICB over five years.