West Indies Cricket Board finances are intact: Hunte

February 18th, 2009 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 18 (IANS) West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) said that the suspension of negotiations with Texas billionaire businessman Allen Stanford, once seen as the saviour of Caribbean cricket, would not be a crippling blow to its finances.
Julian Hunte, the president of WICB, said: “I want to make it clear that the financial viability of West Indies cricket has never depended on Stanford’s largesse, and thank God for that because we are now able to proceed.”

This comes in the wake of Stanford and his fellow directors being charged by United States federal agents for “massive fraud”.

Stanford and the WICB have had a stormy relationship since he virtually hijacked Twenty20 cricket in the region and it was almost severed when they engaged in a legal dispute involving Digicel, the sponsors of West Indies cricket, and Cable & Wireless, its predecessor and great rival.

Stanford bank-rolled a winner-take-all $20 million Twenty20 match in November between England and a West Indies all-star team in Antigua, the first of five planned annual games worth a total $100 million

The all-stars won on the richest payday in cricket, with each of the 11 players collecting $1 million. The remainder was split between the reserve players and staff and national cricket associations.

“When Stanford indicated a few months ago that he was no longer interested in West Indies cricket, it was suggested that we were financially dependent on his money,” Hunte was quoted as saying in The Daily Telegraph.

“I had to point out that before Stanford’s domestic tournament we issued him a licence which brought us in $1 million a year for five years. He didn’t pay the first year and when we got a tripartite agreement between the ECB, the WICB and him we insisted that he pay and we got $2 million.

“Apart from that, Stanford dealt with the local territorial boards and gave them money but it ended up with him suspending payments to them and I assume those payments will now stop.”

Hunte does not rule out the possibility of resuming talks with Stanford if the tycoon can clear his name.

“I just want to thank him for what he has done for West Indies cricket and hopefully the allegations will turn out not to be true so that we will be able to work together again,” he said.

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