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Stanford to rethink involvement in cricket

  • Story Highlights
  • Sir Allen Stanford is considering the future of his Twenty20 Super Series event
  • Stanford lost $20 million in sponsorship deals from October's event in Antigua
  • The American billionaire's behavior during tournament also attracted criticism
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(CNN) -- American billionaire Sir Allen Stanford is considering the future of his Twenty20 Super Series cricket competition after apparently losing $20 million in sponsorship deals from October's event in Antigua.

Stanford looks set to pull out of his involvement in cricket's Twenty20 Super Series competition.

Stanford is "evaluating all of his options" after the inaugural series and is also considering possible new competition formats, Stanford 20/20 spokesperson Julie Hodge told PA Sport.

Reports emerged earlier on Wednesday suggesting Stanford is ready to end his five-year deal with English cricket after the American disbanded the eight legends employed to promote the event.

"He has disbanded the legends group, but at this stage no decision has been taken on the future of the Super Series," said Hodge.

"He is still evaluating his options and no decision has been made yet over whether to possibly have a different format or continue as is. As far as I'm aware there isn't a definite timeline, but he could possibly come to a decision within January."

Stanford announced in June that he would financially back five annual Twenty20 games between a West Indies Superstars XI team and England, with the winners of each match pocketing $20 million.

However, the first such match in October, which the Superstars won by 10 wickets, attracted widespread criticism. Stanford's behavior in Antigua upset some of the England players, particularly when he frequently entered their dressing room.

He was also pictured with several of the players' wives sitting on his knee, causing him to telephone captain Kevin Pietersen to apologize. Organizational issues and playing conditions were also questioned.

However, spokesperson Hodge added that the return on investment would be just one part of Stanford's overall review of the event.

"Of course he will factor in the (financial) return, but there was a lot of negativity surrounding the event," she said. "He is very passionate about the sport, and he has put more than $100 million into cricket.

"I don't think he was insulted by the negativity, but it is disheartening, especially when you are putting so much money into the sport.

The Texan has contributed millions of dollars to the West Indies Cricket Board in an attempt to boost their flagging fortunes, bankrolling their domestic Twenty20 competition and the multi-million five-year agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board for the annual Super Series.

England Cricket Board chiefs are believed to be shocked by news of a possible end to the arrangement, particularly as Stanford had been positive about their future relationship during their last meeting in London several weeks ago.

He was expected to fund an annual four-team Twenty20 tournament at Lord's, which was due to begin next summer, while he was also being lined up to bankroll the England Premier League Twenty20 event starting in 2009, which was due to include his Superstars side as one of two overseas teams.

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