On Wednesday 11 June 2008 Allen Stanford of the Stanford financial empire made yet another critical foray into the world of international cricket at the mecca of the sport – Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Stanford was at Lord’s to announce his annual Twenty20 International Cricket Challenge at which $20m USD will be at stake with the winner taking home almost all – 75% of it.
The first edition of the new Stanford initiative is scheduled to take place at his own cricket ground in Antigua on 1st November 2008 between England and an all-star West Indies team. While the affair is being billed as a ‘winner takes all’ the truth is that Stanford has come out smelling like the proverbial rose in so far as he has insisted that 25% of the $20m that’s up for grabs will be shared between the Chance to Shine charity, West Indies grassroots cricket and the English Cricket Board (an appearance fee).
The 1st November match will be the richest in the sport’s history. It now seems, however, that this is just the beginning. According to one source Stanford is preparing to fund an annual four-nation tournament at England’s prestigious Lord’s cricket ground with effect from September 2009.
Stanford also appears to be in negotiations with the English Cricket Board to get his own team allowed to play in the new English Premier League’s Twenty20 competition that has a starting date of 2010.
Stanford already has his own annual Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean at his cricket ground that shells out $1m USD to the winner and $500,000 USD to the runner-up while the respective cricket boards of the two finalists get some minor sums.
In the past year Stanford has provided funds for the establishment of four professional cricket teams from countries participating in his annual Caribbean tournament.
Stanford vs Kerry Packer
In the 1970s Australian tycoon, Kerry Packer, upset at the International Cricket Council’s approach to the business of television rights, made what many saw as a creative intervention that changed the world of cricket, as we know it. He created something of a super league and wooed the very best players from the cricketing nations of worth at the time and organised an annual tournament.
Packer brought in sizeable sums of money for the contracted players that were at the time significantly better than anything that the sport had ever had in its long history.