Allen Stanford is urging the England and Wales Cricket Board to counter the growing hegemony of Indian cricket by creating a Twenty20 league of their own to surpass the Indian Premier League in organisation, excitement and durability.
Allen Stanford, an American wealth-management tycoon who has lived in the West Indies for 26 years, believes that it is both unavoidable and essential that England have their own money-spinning league to compete with the IPL, to end the one-sidedness that is becoming apparent in the game.
"The ECB realise they’re at a crossroads. They either let the Indians do it or they step up and get a game plan. You want something that will have lasting value for everybody," he said. "It is inevitable that the ECB will create a Twenty20 league, it is inevitable that it will involve the private sector and it is inevitable that the game will evolve.”
Stanford is wary of the cricketing hegemony that has been emerging in India, saying: “There shouldn't be such an imbalance that everybody is riding on one party's coat-tails.”
If the IPL are to be challenged, Stanford believes that there is only one realistic alternative: the ECB.
“If you ask me who’s going to be directing the Twenty20 game in the future, it’ll be the English,” he argued. “The organisation here is better, the management is better, the structure is better."
Hoping to sway the ECB in their decision-making, Stanford has promised access to his considerable wealth, demonstrating his generosity with a £50,000 donation to the Lord’s Taverners charity this week. He also hints at a number of similarly wealthy investors willing to be involved.
“I’m keen that the ECB take the future of cricket in their hands. I’m willing to be a big supporter. I think they’re going to reach out to private investors and float something, who knows, down the road,” Stanford said.
“I have spoken to people, a mixture of Europeans and Americans. It’s a couple of phone calls and we could see something happen. The private sector would be involved, people like myself [would] come in and invest, and the ECB would run it.”
However, Stanford stresses that philanthropy is not behind his cricket venture. “TV revenue would be split,” he says, ensuring that the glitz of the game goes hand-in-hand with long-term investment.
Stanford, who has a purpose-built ground in St John’s, Antigua, does accept that the ECB's conservatism could be a stumbling block, and that they will take some convincing.
“They are very, very carefully analysing it,” he said.
His comments come in the wake of talks held at Lord’s on Monday concerning the £20 million Stanford Challenge, a proposed Twenty20 tournament between England and the West Indies.