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English Premier League faces grim future

English Premier League faces grim future

ECB may be forced to shelve its plans of a quadrangular Twenty20 League rivalling IPL.

London: England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) may be forced to shelve its plans of a quadrangular Twenty20 League rivalling IPL after ending its association with Texan billionaire Allen Stanford, who is accused of fraud.

Stanford, who bankrolled the winner-takes-all Twenty20 Super Series featuring a West Indian All-Star team against England, is facing charges of fraud following a raid on his Houston company headquarters on Tuesday.

ECB chief Giles Clarke said it was a mistake to get associated with Stanford.

"We had the best of intentions, so yes," Clarke said when asked whether he regretted the ECB's alliance with the business tycoon.

"There is now a strong possibility that the quadrangular Twenty20 tournament which had been due for Lord's in May and was expected to include Sri Lanka and Pakistan will now not take place. Clearly we are going to have to look at the matter with some rapidity," Clarke was quoted as saying by Sky News.

The ECB had been facing criticism ever since it aligned with Stanford and the current situation has invited more wrath particularly for Clarke.

"In any normal organisation the chairman's position would be untenable in these circumstances," said Neil Davidson, the chairman of Leicestershire county, who had opposed Clarke's re-election.

"A lot of us felt it was a serious error of judgment by Giles Clarke to get involved with Stanford in the first place and events would seem to have vindicated that opinion," he added.

Lord Marland, the former Conservative party treasurer who backed out of standing against Clarke in the ECB elections after failing to find support among the counties, said, "The ECB has walked into the open arms of a man who has now been charged with fraud. What due diligence was carried out?"

"The picture of Giles Clarke, David Collier [the ECB chief executive] and Allen Stanford standing behind all those dollars will haunt English cricket for a long time. In any other organisation, heads would roll."

Clarke's re-election will be confirmed next week with all counties' endorsements due to come in on Monday. He said despite the end of the agreement with Stanford, the ECB remains financially sound.

"Clearly it is unlikely those tournaments will be taking place but we've always considered them to be outside our normal budgetary processes," Clarke said.

first published:February 18, 2009, 17:31 IST