London: Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire behind the Stanford Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies, is to hold talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) here on Tuesday with regard to the creation of an English Premier League (EPL), according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.
The inaugural Indian Premier League, which has attracted some of the world's best players on lucrative contracts for what is essentially an Indian domestic Twenty20 tournament, gets underway on Friday.
The IPL clashes with the start of the English domestic season and the only England player to have so far been signed up for the new tournament is one-day specialist Dimitri Mascarenhas.
Such is the worldwide popularity of Twenty20, that boards around the world are looking at ways in which they can cash in on its success.
It is in this context that ECB chiefs are looking at an English Premier League.
Crucially, this would not be a rival to the IPL as it would most likely take place in June and July, a time when England is the only major cricket nation whose season is then in progress.
IPL chief Lalit Modi has already made encouraging noises regarding the creation of the EPL.
But in order to attract the world's best players on the kind of salaries the IPL are offering, a big cash injection would be required.
Sponsors and broadcasters would also want assurances about getting the kind of large television audience predicted for the IPL in the sub-continent and around the world.
Someone with the financial clout of Stanford could also be vital to the initial success of the EPL.
"There is no proof yet that the global TV market is strong enough to have a lot of different leagues," said Sean Morris, chief executive of England's Professional Cricketers' Association, on Monday.
"But it is genuinely achievable to make it attractive for everyone to play in."
The IPL has seen the creation of new, franchise teams but Morris said it was too early to say whether England, whose counties pioneered Twenty20 as a professional competition, would go for a revamped, city-based, team structure if the EPL came into existence.
"The opportunity created by the IPL for us in England is potentially very significant," Morris added. "The big issue is scheduling and how we do that to make it work.
"Research into commercial options will dictate number of teams etc as with the Twenty20 research which was carried out by the ECB six years ago.
Many players groups have warned administrators about the dangers of 'burn-out' in recent years as a result of the demands of the existing international schedule.
But the speed with which so many of the game's stars signed up to IPL has not gone unnoticed by the likes of ECB chairman Giles Clarke who observed recently how it was "interesting" that burn-out didn't seem to be so much of an issue now.
"We need to find how the players can take advantage without burning them out," added Morris, of the English proposals. "If we are going to add more to the cake, we have to make sure the players can digest it in bite-sized chunks.
"A lot of players have been very keen to stress that playing for England is their priority and they are very much looking to the Ashes next year."
Clarke, who is set to have talks with Modi in India later this week, wants to ensure any new competition won't harm Test and one-day cricket, which provides the overwhelming bulk of income for all levels of the English game.
"We don't want a knee-jerk reaction to the IPL," he said last week.
"But we believe that we can set up a robust, spectator-friendly, economically sustainable competition of our own which will not cut across the core revenue streams of Test and one-day international cricket."