Texan billionaire Allen Stanford is set to turn his back on cricket after losing 40 million dollars on his million-dollar-a-man series, a report said Wednesday.
©AFP/File - Jewel Samad
LONDON (AFP) - Texan billionaire Allen Stanford is set to turn his back on cricket after losing 40 million dollars on his million-dollar-a-man winner-takes-all match and associated series, a report said Wednesday.
The Daily Mail newspaper said Stanford was poised to end his five-year-deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after just a year.
His financial backing for West Indies cricket would also be terminated, the report said.
An ECB spokesman added they were "unaware" of any developments.
The report said Stanford had made heavy losses after paying his victorious Stanford Superstars team 20 million dollars for the Twenty20 showdown against England in Antigua last month, while another 20 million dollars went on television and sponsorship deals connected to the event.
Stanford was expected to fund the competition for a further four years, while he was also expected to bankroll the England Premier League Twenty20 tournament from 2009 as well as set up an annual four-team event at Lord's.
The report said Stanford axed his board of ambassadors for the Super Series, including West Indies great Viv Richards, on Tuesday.
The withdrawal of his investment would be a severe blow to cricket in the West Indies, one of the sport's financially poorer major sides, which received millions of dollars from longstanding Antigua resident Stanford in a bid to revive its flagging fortunes.
Stanford hoped the series would help cricket crack the US market, although there was little evidence it made a major impact, while the ECB saw the series as a way to forestall the exit of leading players for lucrative engagements in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition.
But his high-profile presence at the Antigua match caused unease and he was forced to apologise after he was pictured with the wife of England wicket-keeper Matt Prior sitting on his knee.
However, the Twenty20 series was credited with helping install a sense of professionalism among a group of West Indian cricketers who last month thrashed England by 10 wickets at Stanford's own ground in Antigua.
Stanford said the Superstars would "beat anybody in the world".
ECB chairman Giles Clarke, who brokered the agreement with Stanford, was criticised for doing a deal with someone who admitted he found five-day Tests "boring".
And the sight of Stanford launching his series in June by landing in a private helicopter at Lord's before unveiling a box filled with 20 million dollars' worth of banknotes proved hard for many traditionalists to stomach.
Should Stanford pull out, it would represent a fresh financial blow to England following Tuesday's announcement by sponsors Vodafone they would end their backing in 2010, while other sponsorship deals are set to end next year.
The ECB are also set to lose a reported 10 million pounds (15.3 million dollars) from national funding agency Sport England.