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England set for lucrative series

Source - bbc.co.uk

English cricket chiefs are confident the multi-million pound Twenty20 deal with Sir Allen Stanford will go ahead, despite rumours of player unease.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is set to confirm the contract soon.

A spokesman dismissed reports of players rejecting the lucrative offer because of how the money will be split.

"The stakeholders are working together to maximise the opportunity for the England team and wider interests of the game," he told BBC Sport.

The deal is believed to include five winner-takes-all Twenty20 matches between England and a West Indies All-Star side in Antigua - the winner receiving $20m (10m) - and an annual international quadrangular tournament in England.

The first Twenty20 match is set to take place on 1 November at Stanford's private ground where he is based in the Caribbean.

The series could be worth about $200m (100m) to the English game.

But reports suggested the players did not want a straight winner-takes-all pot and were concerned how the money would be shared between squad members, backroom staff and injured players.

England Test captain Michael Vaughan has retired from limited overs international cricket, but joked he would be "absolutely" available for the lucrative Stanford games.

One suggestion to appease selected players is they would each receive a guaranteed $100,000 (50,000) appearance fee, with members of the winning team receiving a further $1m (500,000) pay-out each.

The ECB spokesman refused to confirm whether the winner-takes-all clause was still in the contract.

"We have never discussed publicly the details of the contract," the spokesman added.

But he said discussions were still ongoing between the Professional Cricketers' Association, the ECB and Stanford's representatives.

The ECB, the original brains behind Twenty20 cricket, is keen to cash-in on its growing popularity and provide a suitable complement to the Indian Premier League.

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