Stanford saddened that ECB was shamed


Allen Stanford said he is heartbroken to have dragged the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) through the mud as he serves a 110-year prison sentence for investment fraud.

In 2008, the American signed a deal with the ECB to stage a five-match Twenty20 series between England and a Caribbean team named the 'Stanford Superstars', with the winners promised $20million.

Stanford was charged with fraud totalling $8billion the following year and a conviction followed in 2012, leaving ECB officials who welcomed him to Lord's in a helicopter carrying a case supposedly containing the prize money red-faced.

Speaking from the maximum-security Coleman II federal prison in Sumterville, Florida, Stanford told the BBC of his sorrow at damaging the reputation of cricket, but maintains he will clear his name.

When asked about the humiliation the ECB suffered, he said: "It makes me very, very sad. I'm very sorry.

"It breaks my heart and there's nothing I can say other than that was not caused by Allen Stanford.

"That was caused by the wrongful prosecution... an overzealous and a wrongful prosecution."

Stanford added: "I'm not sure if Giles Clarke [former ECB chairman] is still the head person now, but he and I got along well.

"And I think the world of David Collier [ex ECB chief executive]. My dealings with the ECB was one of professionalism and one of mutual respect and I love cricket."

Stanford also admitted that he exploited cricket, having introduced the first Stanford 20/20 a decade ago, seeing the tournament take off with huge television viewing figures.

Asked what he thought of people who said he used the sport for his own gain, Stanford said: "I would say they are absolutely correct.

"I was trying to grow the Stanford brand globally. I mean anybody would be foolish not to spend the money, and I spent about $30-odd million on cricket in the West Indies in addition to what I spent on the 20/20 tournament.

"But I certainly did want a return on that investment in terms of a business sense. But what nobody understood is that I anticipated this new generation of players that we were going to uncover.

"When we had our first cricket tournament we broadcast that and I gave the TV rights away globally. We had over a billion people watch our matches and that was the island versus island competition.

"My goal was to have a vehicle where I could uncover new talent, take the money that this tournament generated, and pile it back into the island so that they could develop their own programmes, home-grow these young athletes and bring them to the Stanford 20/20.

"We would pick the best players out of the tournament. These would not be the superstars that currently play for the West Indies, these would be unknown young guys.

"In the West Indies we have the greatest physical athletic talent for cricket anywhere in the world. They were just being diverted into other sports, whether it's basketball or soccer. There just wasn't that real incentive for them to stay and play in a sport that had not kept track with the 21st century and the modernisation of the sport."