Texas billionaire to bankroll two UK Twenty20 tourneys

Melbourne, Apr.25 : Texas billionaire Allen Stanford has agreed to bankroll two Twenty20 competitions in England.

The Times reports that Stanford, the ECB and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) are now in a position to ink a memorandum of understanding that will pave the way for the five-match, US0 million series against a West Indies all-star team and create a four-team international tournament, to be held at Lord's.

Talks between the three parties, which have lasted more than 100 hours, initially focused on a five-match series between England and a West Indies Stanford XI that would rotate for five years between Antigua and Lord's, with the winning team taking 20 million dollars for each match.

Now, however, the so-called "Twenty20 for 20" series will be held solely at Stanford's ground in Antigua. In return, at the instigation of the ECB, the American has committed himself to financing five annual knockout tournaments, to be staged at the home of cricket from September 2009.

The Twenty20 tournaments will mean England and a West Indies all-star XI, as well as two international teams invited by the ECB, contesting a 10 million dollar bounty.

The teams will be drawn at random into two semi-finals, with the winners entering a play-off for the prize. All television revenue will go to the ECB.

"I'm not going to break even at Lord's," Stanford told The Times last night. "I look at that as part of the overall package, that it will give more exposure to and create more excitement about the whole thing."

Stanford hopes to fly home tomorrow after a week of meetings that have at times stretched to ten hours.

The development of the two series could help to assuage the demands of England's top cricketers to have the chance to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where they can make a season's wages in six weeks.

An England player who features in a successful team in all Stanford's fixtures over the five-year period could earn upwards of three million pounds.

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Story first published: Friday, April 25, 2008, 17:16 [IST]
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