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ECB set for $100m Stanford boost

Sir Allen Stanford, the billionaire banker from Texas, has offered to put up $100 million (about £50 million) for England to play five Twenty20 games against his West Indies all-star side.

The first game is pencilled in to coincide with Independence Day in Antigua on November 1 and Stanford wants to alternate venues annually between his own ground and Lord’s.

Talks on Tuesday between Stanford and David Collier, the ECB chief executive, went beyond the $20 million “winner-takes-all” contest this year that would become the richest single game in cricket history. Stanford has told The Times that he believes it will be the start a series that will make millionaires of the England players.

Stanford said: “I talked to David about the first game and then how we could collaborate in the future. I said that it could be an annual event, maybe we could come to Lord’s in 2009 and then alternate. I would be happy to make a five-year commitment.” Asked if that meant a total input of $100 million, he said: “I would be willing to do it.”

Unlike Collier and Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, Stanford was not at the start of the Indian Premier League in Bangalore yesterday, which was explosively launched by an innings of 158 not out by Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand wicket-keeper, as Kolkata Knight Riders thrashed the Bangalore Royal Challengers.

“The money is real and I think we will get a game,” Stanford said. “David is a great guy and we seem to be on the same page. England are in a position of choosing which way they want to go. They can embrace the Twenty20 revolution which started in your country, or they can sit back and let India and the others determine the future. I think the ECB will grab this opportunity and guide the game into the future better than anyone else.”

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