Good Riddance, Sir Allen Stanford

David KiffordContributor IDecember 19, 2008

The rumour mill is churning as Sir Allen Stanford seems ready to sever his ties with the cricketing world.


After disbanding the board of West Indian legends that included names such as Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers, and Curtly Ambrose, who acts as ambassadors to promote the Stanford Super Series, the future of the American’s involvement in cricket seems bleak.


There’s been talk as to what state this will leave the ECB in after signing a lucrative contract with Stanford last summer.


But as far as I am concerned, it’s good riddance to bad rubbish.


From the instant he was introduced to the public, he was laden with distaste from the arrival by helicopter, landing at lords and the $20m in a glass box at the official unveiling of the series.


The constant cheddar-filled cheesy smile on display for the entirety of the Super Series in Antigua, and the incredible disrespect shown towards England by celebrating with the Superstars after their 10-wicket victory.


Perhaps I’m being fickle because England didn’t win, feeling a little sore perhaps, but if England had won, there wouldn’t have be the scenes of celebration that riled me so much.


Former England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Lord MacLaurin labelled the $20m match a "pantomime" and "obscene" and from every detail you could see it would upset the purists.


The obscene sums of money on offer, were something never before seen in cricket, or in fact any team sport, as the ‘Million-Dollar-a-man’ prize money threatened to disrupt cricket’s traditions of fair play and sportsmanship.


The whole series had a feeling surrounding it that Stanford was showing off, with the tournament taking place in a stadium named after him and his name emblazoned on each player of his ‘superstars’, he seemed to be marking his territory.


But with Stanford pulling away, no matter how the purists feel about it, you need to consider the financial state that it will leave the ECB in. They're just one year into a five-year contract with Stanford that is worth $17.5m and expecting to work with him in their bid to set up an English Premier League to rival the money making Indian Premier League.


The ECB also need to sort out new sponsors for both domestic and international cricket as all the current deals are set to expire in the next 18 months.


Npower’s sponsorship of test matches and Natwest sponsorship of ODI’s are set to expire in August and September of 2009, and Vodafone recently announced they would not be continuing with their sponsorship of the national squad once the current deal expires in 2010.


The domestic scene is just as bleak with the Friends Provident Trophy sponsorship and LV’s sponsorship of the County Championship expiring in July and September of 2009.


Whilst Stanford’s withdrawal could leave the ECB with something of a financial black hole at the very worst time, with the economy in ruin it could be hard finding new sponsors.


As much trouble as his departure from cricket could leave English cricket in trouble, consider the state of cricket in the Caribbean where his influence on cricket is a much greater one.


The 58-year-old has pledged $130m to West Indian cricket over five years and set up a domestic Twenty20 tournament in 2006.


Ex-West Indian bowler Colin Croft told BBC Radio Five Live, “The man has lived in Antigua and Barbados for about 20 years; he is as much a West Indian as many people.”


When asked about the possibility of Stanford leaving the cricketing world he replied, “I would be surprised, I would be disappointed. West Indies cricket needs Sir Allen Stanford.


“He has contributed to each of the individual territories, giving as much as $200,000 each year for the last two or three years, so everybody is going to lose if he is removed from the equation.”


In an attempt to quash these rumours Stanford has moved to assure the ECB he is not on his way out however if he did it would have a huge effect on both English and West Indian cricket.


After becoming an integral cog in the operations of two cricketing nations his withdrawal could make a dramatic change to the face of world cricket.


Perhaps it should be less a case of waving Stanford good-bye and more a case of making him feel comfortable, as after all, maybe English cricket needs him more than he needs English cricket.