CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Feb. 18, 2009: Hours after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed criminal conduct charges against Sir R. Allen Stanford, the West Indies and English cricket boards announced they were suspending sponsorship talks with the billionaire.
`The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have suspended negotiations with Sir Allen Stanford and his financial corporation concerning a new sponsorship deal,` the ECB said in a statement.
The swift announcement came weeks after speculation that Stanford was getting ready to pull out of sponsorship commitments he had made to the English board.
And following claims that he lost money on his last private Twenty20 competition in the Caribbean, a tourney that had turned him into the much-celebrated `savior` of West Indies cricket.
Top Caribbean cricket legends had lined up to laud Stanford for his brilliance in implementing the event, and for bringing back an excitement to the game, using the less popular twenty over match form.
Most of all it was the millions that many players who played in the tournament stood to gain that stirred the excitement and made Stanford`s glory expand from tiny Antigua & Barbuda, where his investments essentially covered the island, to the entire Caribbean.
So what happens now and how will this affect the sport and sponsorship dollars?
President of the Washington Cricket League and chairman of the Atlantic Region Cricket Board, Attorney Sheldon Ellis, says he does not see an impact on the sports directly.
`It won’t slow down the progress of cricket as it was only one aspect of the game. The true bred cricketers are test oriented and the 20/20 was a kind of bastardized form of the game,` said the Jamaican-born Ellis.
But he admits financially it will be a big loss, as Stanford he says was `a big single sponsor of the sport in the Caribbean region.`
However, he is adamant that the West Indies Cricket Board should look closer at sponsors they align themselves with while admitting that Stanford is innocent until proven guilty. Ellis is also baffled by the way the WICB moved to immediately distance itself from Stanford.
`It is premature,` he said, considering they reaped a lot of the benefits from the billionaire.