Texas billionaire pumps US$100m into Windies cricket

Published: Thursday, July 5, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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St John's (Antigua):Texas billionaire Allen Stanford has given West Indies cricket US$100 million over three years in what he described on Wednesday as a bid to bring the game into the 21st century.

Stanford told a news conference that most of the funding would go towards grassroots development to prepare for the second Stanford 20/20 tournament early in 2008 after the launch of his Caribbean regional tournament last year.

Cuba will join the Jan 25 to Feb 24 tournament along with Turks and Caicos. The 21 teams will compete for a top prize of $1 million with the losing finalists getting US$500, 000.

Overall prize money is US$2.9 million - one of the largest purses for a domestic competition in the history of the game.

Last year Stanford invested over US$30 million in a similar project.

"This won't be just cricket, this will be a life-changing experience," he said.

"We can't wait two decades to regain the golden era of West Indies cricket. We are stuck in the 1950s and 60s. We can't allow ourselves to stay stuck forever. We have to come into the 21st century," added Stanford.

The glory years of West Indies cricket were between 1980 and 1985 when they were undefeated in a Test series.

The 21 teams in Stanford's tournament will each receive monthly grants of US$15,000 with Cuba's funds distributed to the cricket council for government sporting programmes.

"I'm investing a lot of money in this thing and at some point I expect to make a profit - something that needs to happen for the longevity of the programme and will provide essential funding for West Indies Cricket," Stanford added.

"I have committed my resources and I believe that within those five years we'll have a world-beating West Indies team again.

"The Stanford 20/20 programme we're creating is going to be the instrument that brings about that success, the catalyst that takes us back to the glory days of West Indies cricket."

The Stanford 20/20 project is run by a board of directors, all former West Indies cricket greats, including Garfield Sobers, Viv Richards, Curtly Ambrose and Michael Holding.


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