Stanford fury over inaccurate article

Sir Allen Stanford is unhappy with an article written in the Sunday Telegraph in England claiming that he intends to spend the fortune he has designated for West Indies cricket elsewhere.

It’s written by veteran cricket writer Scyld Berry and Stanford has issued a statement refuting much of what Berry writes.

Berry opens the article by saying: ‘In a serious blow to West Indian cricket, Sir Allen Stanford will reduce much of his funding in the domestic game to channel it into international Twenty20 cricket in England.’

Berry wrongly claims that at a meeting in Antigua last week the Stanford board approved the decision to stop funding about 20 West Indian territories, which had each received $280,000 in their first year to revive cricket, and subsequently $100,000 a year.

‘West Indian cricket will receive a much-reduced contribution from Stanford, while territories outside the umbrella of the West Indian board, such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bahamas, will be cut off,’ claims Berry.

Berry claims that a former West Indian player told him: “Stanford’s intention all the time was to get himself embedded in international Twenty20 cricket. His priority is not West Indies cricket. It’s all a business project.”

The prospect of winning the first prize of $1 million in the domestic Stanford Twenty20 competition had galvanised West Indian cricket after years of decline.

Played at Stanford’s own ground in Antigua, the competition also played well on television as the Guyana then Trinidad teams won themselves previously unimagined sums. In first-class regional cricket they have been paid $400 for a four-day match.

Stanford in future will put his money into international Twenty20 cricket, starting with an annual match between West Indies and England for a prize of $20 million. This year’s match is in Antigua on November 1.

Stanford has also negotiated with the ECB to stage a four-nation tournament at Lord’s in 2010 involving England, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Berry adds: ‘But if England win the inaugural 20-over match, they will have to live with the knowledge that the money which goes into their pockets had originally been earmarked for the urgent development of cricket in the West Indies. The man who would be king in the Caribbean has gone global.’

Stanford said in his statement: ‘The article contains gross inaccuracies and Stanford 20/20 wishes to clarify these and let the facts be known.

‘In the initial year of funding each territorial board received $100,000 as start up money in order to prepare their players and upgrade their facilities.

‘Following this each territorial board received $180,000 for the year as part of the Stanford 20/20 development programme.

‘At the Stanford 20/20 Board Meeting in November 2007 a decision was taken by the Board to suspend the funding as a result of a lack of accountability by some of the territorial boards.

‘At the Stanford 20/20 Board Meeting in March 2008 a decision was taken to resume funding by way of a restructured disbursement scheme in order to ensure a higher level of accountability.

‘In March 2008 representatives of all the territorial boards were flown to St Croix in the United States Virgin Islands in order to discuss with them the status of their funding.’

Theo Cuffy and Ivan Burges represented Cayman at that St Croix meeting and they came back with positive news.

The only significant changing is the way the money is disbursed.

Stanford added: ‘Stanford 20/20 remains committed to the development and resurgence of West Indies cricket on the international stage. With the legends on the Stanford 20/20 Board of Directors I have never wavered in our dedication to ensuring that West Indies cricket rises from the regrettable state it has reached.’

Billionaire Stanford has already dedicated in excess of $80m towards his pet project.

Stanford also claimed that in conjunction with the West Indies Cricket Board he will shortly announce some exciting initiatives ‘which are guaranteed to have the eyes of the cricketing world firmly focussed on the West Indies’.