Sponsor row threatens Stanford game

The verbal battle between Digicel and Stanford 20/20 continued yesterday with Digicel reacting to a Stanford's rejection of its compromise offer with a statement accusing the tournament organisers of "inaccuracies" in its press release

Cricinfo staff

Allen Stanford: caught in a row with West Indies' sponsors, Digicel © Getty Images
The possibility of November's Stanford 20/20 for 20 match being scrapped increased over the weekend after attempts to broker a compromise in a row between the Stanford organisers and Digicel, the multi-million dollar sponsors of the West Indies Cricket Board, failed.
Digicel maintains that its existing five-year deal with the WICB includes the Stanford match as it is officially sanctioned by the board and the team is, in effect, a fully representative side. Stanford counters that it is not an official side and, as such, is outside any existing sponsorship deal.
The matter has already reached the High Court in London where Digicel were granted an injunction against Stanford proceeding with the event, and arbitration is due to begin on October 3. Last week, Digicel issued a three-point offer, but this was rejected on Saturday by Stanford.
Yesterday, Digicel issued a terse statement in which it accused the tournament organisers of "inaccuracies" in its press release and questioning the willingness of the Stanford set-up to resolve the matter.
Digicel also claimed that Stanford officials have refused to meet to discuss the stand-off, adding that they had also declined to engage in any negotiations involving the West Indies board. "Digicel's response to Stanford's weak proposal urged the parties to continue negotiating and to focus efforts on finding an acceptable compromise solution," a spokesman said. "Regrettably, Stanford flatly refused to meet with all parties and stated categorically that it refused to engage in any negotiation process involving the WICB."
A media release issued on Sunday by Digicel said it had sought to hold meetings with Stanford and the WICB in the light of the rejection of its compromise offer, but instead Stanford had themselves issued a media release blaming Digicel for the stalemate.
"Whilst Digicel would not argue with Stanford's entitlement to communicate with the media as it sees fits, it would point out that Stanford declined to properly explain in its release that the proposal put forward by it was expressly limited to one year as distinct from mirroring the duration of Digicel's exclusive sponsorship agreement with the WICB," Digicel said. "Further, the press release declined to explain the various restrictions which Stanford sought to impose on Digicel."
The WICB has remained almost silent in recent days as Digicel, its premier sponsor, and Stanford, a source of tremendous revenue and exposure for Caribbean cricket, slug it out in the media.
But there is a growing concern that the row could threaten the Stanford 20/20 for 20 match. Neither side has shown any willingness to back down, and a sponsorship insider told Cricinfo that "Digicel has been pushed as far as it is prepared to go". He continued: "The company is very confident about its legal ground on this one."
If arbitration fails to produce a settlement then the high court would have less than a fortnight to hear the case and make a decision. The Stanford warm-up matches start on October 25.