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ECB was given Stanford warning

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Mihir Bose | 09:55 UK time, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

I have learnt that three weeks ago the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was warned that there was trouble brewing with Sir Allen Stanford. The ECB's response was to ask its auditors, Deloitte, to do further due diligence.

The ECB has so far refused to comment on the extra diligence that was performed, but its decision to suspend relations with Stanford as soon as US authorities announced they were investigating the Texan businessman for fraud suggests it knew something.

The warning could not have come at a more delicate moment. The ECB was discussing a new deal with Stanford, who wanted to ditch the million-dollar-a-man match in Antigua, the first of which was played last November. He was still prepared to back an annual quadrangular tournament at Lord's in the summer, but the deal he proposed was for three years, not five years. Also, he wanted to reduce the pot on offer to the winners from $5m to $1.5m.

Interestingly, negotiations about the new Stanford deal that were taking place between the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) and the ECB have now led to a row. One possible reason for that row is that the ECB upset the players by trying to force them to agree to the new deal in the middle of the current Test series against West Indies. The counter suggestion is that the PCA upset the ECB by insisting that the original five-year deal, including the Antigua match, should remain in place, even sending an e-mail to the ECB to that effect just days before Stanford was charged.

Sean Morris, the chief executive of the PCA, has admitted that the organisation's lawyers did send an e-mail to the ECB on 6 February. But he insists this was just to seek clarification about the status of the Antigua matches. He argues clarification was necessary so the players could understand why they had to sign a new deal.

According to Morris, it was the ECB which was under time pressure to conclude the revised Stanford deal. He told me that pressure was coming from Stanford and also because the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was due to mail its members with details on the quadrangular matches at Lord's. As it happens, the MCC ended up sending out its publicity mail before the deal could be concluded.

That is all now history, of course. The ECB must now look to the future and find a way of making up for the loss of Stanford and his money. It has already told the counties that they will not lose out financially. But in order to ensure that they don't, the ECB will have to dip into its £4m contingency fund.

The bigger question is how the ECB can get a share of the money the Indians are generating from their lucrative Champions League. As I revealed in November, when I concluded that Stanford was a bad deal for English cricket, the ECB spurned India's offer to join their tournament. Instead, it tried to establish its own competition, which would be backed, it said, by Abu Dhabi money.

England would have earned nearly 17% of the total pot had they joined the Champions League, the same percentage that Australia and South Africa were promised. The Indians would keep 50%, arguing they deserved the bigger share because the bulk of the money was coming from their own television markets.

The ECB said its deal was better as it would give everyone an equal share of 25%. Yet despite this assertion, Australia and South Africa went with the Indians. The ECB's Abu Dhabi backers then promptly vanished when they discovered the Indians would be playing in their own tournament rather than the ECB's.

The ECB has to find a way of winning back the Indians, who now have a 10-year deal worth nearly $1bn. That will take some doing, particularly given how weak the ECB's bargaining position is in the wake of the Stanford affair.

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  • 1. At 11:24am on 24 Feb 2009, thinkstuff wrote:



    I have learnt that three weeks ago the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was warned that there was trouble brewing with Sir Allen Stanford. The ECB's response was to ask its auditors, Deloitte, to do further due diligence.

    The ECB has so far refused to comment on the extra diligence that was performed, but its decision to suspend relations with Stanford as soon as US authorities announced they were investigating the Texan businessman for fraud suggests it knew something.

    ----

    I don't follow the argument. Who warned them? SEC?

    "The ECB's response was to ask its auditors, Deloitte, to do further due diligence."

    Further due diligence is an oxymoron, isn't it? And if we leave that aside, doesn't that strike you as a suitable response to the vague warning which you have learned about?




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  • 2. At 12:38pm on 24 Feb 2009, smellslikesalmon wrote:

    I suppose I can understand the logic of India keeping a larger share as they have a bigger market, but I wonder what the reaction would have been, in the days when the British cricket market was the wealthiest, if England had demanded higher shares of tournament revenue than others? I can only imagine the 'arrogant' and 'colonialist' complaints from other parts of the world!

    And by this logic should England receive the most revenue from World Cup Football / Euro Championships as football TV rights are worth the most here? No, there would be an outcry. An interesting debate.

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  • 3. At 12:47pm on 24 Feb 2009, GordonCummings wrote:

    What a complete an utter shambles the management of the ECB has overseen.

    Cricket is currently going through major upheaval commercially with massive opportunities. Clear and decisive management is required to ensure that the ECB is in a position to fully take advantage of this to the benefit of the National Side . Sadly for English Cricket this has not happened.

    All we are currently hearing is excuses about the Stanford Debacle and stories of poor relationships with the Players.

    Cricket is notoriously jobs for the boys, it's time to look further afield to establish a progressive corporate structure.

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  • 4. At 1:30pm on 24 Feb 2009, Geordiehorn wrote:

    This, like so much of Mihir Bose's writing, is a complete non-story. Just before the Stanford story broke the ECB were warned (there doesn't appear to be any more to the warning than a fairly vague "there's something not right there"). They did what any sesnible business would do and decided to investigate further. Where's the story? Can't the BBC afford someone who will do some proper investigative sports journalism rather than the lazy nonsense that Bose is responsible for?

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  • 5. At 1:37pm on 24 Feb 2009, Toe2Toe wrote:

    ECB need a major overall with commercially aware decison makers who get results instead of being bogged down with short-sightedness.

    The game is dying albeit slowly and the ECB needs to get with the times or cricket as we know it will disappear in the West at least.

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  • 6. At 1:50pm on 24 Feb 2009, andersonshair wrote:

    #2 Italian football rights are bigger than English football rights (see the Premiership vs Serie A report on the football homepage)...

    ... but that said, the ECB didn't think about a Champions League of cricket and the BCCI did.

    Those who come up with the concept deserve to reap the rewards - the main concept of a free market society.

    If the ECB ever came up with a new, money-spinning concept and had the backing of the big corporations and sponsors in the way the BCCI does, then they would deserve the rewards and I don't think anyone would call them collonialist or arrogant... Just seems they're unlikely to ever think outside the box - 'it's just not cricket!'

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  • 7. At 1:57pm on 24 Feb 2009, Me again wrote:

    "As I revealed in November, when I concluded Stanford was a bad deal for English Cricket"

    Unbelievable.

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  • 8. At 2:18pm on 24 Feb 2009, Stargazer wrote:

    Well, the fact that a well-known cricket site carried a posting during the 1st Test from a fan advising that the FBI had just raided the Stanford offices should have been a warning anyway. There have been plenty of signs that things were afoot and plenty of speculation as to why. Now we know, if not the full story, at least a goodly part of it, including just why the Stanford ground had not been tended since November and was thus not in any state to host the 3rd Test. One assumes that the ECB would have been aware of the raids by the FBI and might just have cottoned-on that all was not well somewhere.

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  • 9. At 2:21pm on 24 Feb 2009, Dr_Grammar wrote:

    6. andersonshair: So according to your vision of a free market society, the majority of revenues from the Cricket World Cup should go to England as they founded it? And the Football WC to France? Interesting.

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  • 10. At 2:23pm on 24 Feb 2009, Gareth wrote:

    I don't know about a tip off but it was reported in the press as long ago as July 2008 that Stanford was being investigated by the SEC.

    As was reported in the press at the time, 2 former Stanford employees Charles Rawl and Mark Tidwell were issued by subpeonas in July 2008 as part of a SEC investigation into his offshore bank.

    No doubt Mr Bose asked him about the ongoing investigation when he met him in October.

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  • 11. At 2:37pm on 24 Feb 2009, Gareth wrote:

    An example of the reports published last year.

    It doesn't take much effort to investigate a story properly....

    Stanford Group under probe
    Published on: 7/9/08.


    SIR ALLEN STANFORD, who recently signed a £100 million deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), is under investigation in the United States for his company's behaviour during a recent offshore banking deal.



    The Stanford Group is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over deposits made at their offshore bank in Antigua.

    Stanford's company controls more than US$6 billion (£3.9 billion) of assets in Antigua, the island that will host November's US$20 million match between an All Stars team and England.

    The SEC investigate alleged corporate crimes that can lead to criminal prosecutions. They are investigating the Stanford Group after subpoenas were issued to two former employees asking for information about sales by Stanford's offshore bank.

    Charles Rawl and Mark Tidwell are suing Stanford Group, accusing the company of forcing them to resign because they did not want to participate in illegal activities.

    Sir Alen, 58, ranked 239th richest American, vehemently denies the allegations. The Stanford Group's spokesman, Lula Rodriguez, said the allegations "have been made by disgruntled employees and are totally without merit".

    Last month, Sir Allen, who has a net worth of two billion dollars, invested in a multi-million dollar winner take all 20/20 match between West Indies and England in Antigua.

    And the 12 West Indian cricketers selected on the Stanford All-Star side will pocket US$1 million each time they beat their traditional arch-rivals. The first match will be played on November 1 to coincide with the 27th anniversary of Antigua's independence.

    He said the reason why he was pumping such an unprecedented sum of money (approximately US$150 000 million when additional costs are added) into the 20/20 series is because he has been living in the Caribbean for almost three decades and is driven by a burning desire to see West Indies' cricket rise again. (The Daily Telegraph)

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  • 12. At 2:56pm on 24 Feb 2009, thatotherguy2 wrote:

    Surely this whole saga Mihir is just another symptom of there having been far too much money and ego around during the era of The Greenspan Financial Bubble. The collision with the olde worlde MCC and the 'mine's a Remy' greed of modern day sportsmen just adds to the gaiety of the nation.What does any of this really matter in the scheme of things?

    Back in the late '60s during the school summer hols you could watch cricket for hours on end all day on the BBC. It seemed to go on for ever and nothing of note ever seemed to happen. Then Botham came along and the culture seemed to change enroute to where we are today. It is all so utterly trivial, really rather dreary and people like Stanford soon pass into history.

    What I'd like to see you look at much more closely is the Jowell/Armitt massaging of public expectations in terms of cost of London 2012.

    Armitt like Goodwin and Crosby is another Knight of the Realm whose services to the country I don't fully understand. Investors at CTRL lost their shirt and yet at Costain Armitt showed only too clearly that he knew all about financial controls when he wanted to. When Armitt was showing Gordon Brown round the Olympic site the other week I just had a sense that all the building blocks were in place for media manipulation on likely costs. I would be far happier if Armitt stepped as his presence gives me no confidence about what the final costs to the taxpayer are likely to be.

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  • 13. At 2:59pm on 24 Feb 2009, Roman Philosopher wrote:

    If because of receiving a warning about Stanford, the ECB asked Deloitte to re-investigate Stanford, then sureley that is the appropriate response.

    It was also the appropriate response to suspend relations pending an SEC investigation, and why do either of these actions prove that the ECB knew something in advance about Stanford's alleged fraudulent activities.

    I can't find the logic in your opening two paragrpahs.

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  • 14. At 3:20pm on 24 Feb 2009, jmb wrote:

    Everyone knew in advance of the news breaking on the BBC, they were a full week behind the SEC for a kick-off. someone sent me a link by email to google news where simply typing "stanford" got a whole lot of articles about him being under investigation by the SEC.

    None of this was reported anywhere on the BBC until a few days later when he actually had the summons issued and he couldn't be found.

    The BBC were very, very slow on the uptake on this one and no amount of hindsight will get that back.

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  • 15. At 3:29pm on 24 Feb 2009, mike wrote:

    What concerns me most from this article, is the BCCI and their power to dictate to other countries how much they should recieve.
    Naturally, this will eventually end in tears when the BCCI tries to squeeze percentages even more in its favour. Or when the BCCI decides this should be standard practice for all tours and Test Match cricket. Hopefully, then all the other cricket boards will take a stand.
    The natural conclusion of the BCCI's policy, is that say WI's, Zimbabwe or New Zealand play India, England and Australia, the big 'markets' should get a 75% share. This will detrimentally affect the game in smaller countries and pretty soon India, England and Australia will have no-one else to play with. It worries me! We need an ICC where one member country gets one vote, so that one country does not have a majority.

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  • 16. At 3:39pm on 24 Feb 2009, cynicalyorkie1 wrote:

    Sounds from this blog trail that the BBC's sports editor was the last person to find out.

    A know-all with the benefit of hindsight?

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  • 17. At 3:50pm on 24 Feb 2009, olddog_newtricks wrote:

    Oh please...a vague suggestion that "something might be up", and now hindsight allows you the luxury of judgment?
    If Mihir Bose can produce the letter that he wrote to the ECB on the day of that warning, offering the wisdom of his knowledge at the time, then the above editorial would carry some credibility.
    Without it, it's just lazy journalism.

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  • 18. At 4:04pm on 24 Feb 2009, andersonshair wrote:

    9. Dr_Grammar

    I think you miss my point - they invented it(English cricket, French football), but haven't managed to bring in the sponsosorship, commercial activities etc to go with it, so no, don't deserve the lions share of the cash....

    in football it's the clubs who make the money (Man U, Real Madrid etc) so they keep and deserve the lions share of the money

    in cricket, it's the BCCI and Indian sponsors, so they deserve to keep it

    the question is more that cricket is as popular as religion in India and people will pay a lot for it, (as football is in England), but it is not in England and so the ECB have failed to generate mass market popularity and thus have not made it a money spinning, entertainment machine

    therefore the BCCI deserves what it gets for continuing to keep cricket as the most popular and the therefore most money-spinning sport - unlike other national boards - see how US sports have invaded the West Indies and rugby remains more popular in New Zealand etc... Indian corporates will plough millions in cricket, others won't in other countries - that is where the BCCI deserve credit

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  • 19. At 5:19pm on 24 Feb 2009, excellentcatblogger wrote:

    This is puerile and pathetic the way the BBC is ganging up on the ECB regarding the Stanford affair. Stanford has not been convicted, let alone charged or arrested with an offence - he has been served notice and had his passport removed.

    If there is fault it is to the regulators (US and UK) and the ECB's auditors or professional advisers.

    Lloyds TSB was recently fined USD 350 million for name stripping transactions between London and New York in contravention of anti terror laws. Barclays is currently being investigated for a similar offence.

    Using Mihir's somewhat convoluted logic, should the Football's Premier League immediately disassociate itself from its main sponsor? Should the premiership pay back all the sponsor money received from Barclays? Should the premiership clubs have the right to audit barclays books? Personally I think the football clubs would do a better job than the FSA, SFO and Treasury combined!

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  • 20. At 5:59pm on 24 Feb 2009, U2Singhy wrote:

    I am not trying to be biased here as an Indian but all the arguments that are saying that world cricket is going to be demolished because teams who bring in the most money should get a bigger % are rubbish mainly due to the fact that is a domestic tournament and not an international one. This is like friendlies in football where teams are offered a certain amount for playing a team, in this case BCCI are the home team and are inviting other boards.

    I understand it is concerning for the ECB that they are not top dog but nowadays morals go out of the window for money so whether it be with the BCCI or Stanford should have been quite an easy option. The ECB need some better direction rather than copying the IPL with the EPL.

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  • 21. At 7:11pm on 24 Feb 2009, Zulu Warrior wrote:

    Mihir
    I have decided that the best way to enjoy your blog is for me not to be too serious.

    On an entertainment level this Stanford Series blog has had the lot:-
    Hindsight-intrigue-Scoop-alleged fraud
    - India breaking the ECB/MCC shackles -Quotes from Gandi and Churchill -intellectual deconstruction(possibly destruction depending on your point of view) of Mirhir's assertions.
    -Claim and counter claim
    -Corporate governence/due diligence
    -and lots lots more .
    I cannot wait for the jousts to continue as My insider sources tell me that Mihir will be contributing more blogs.
    Well done to all contributers in the series.

    Lets say rain stopped play

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  • 22. At 7:11pm on 24 Feb 2009, Ethalrocks wrote:

    If you had read the reports in Private Eye you would have known about these matters several years ago, not days or wrrks.

    I don't have the relevant issue to hand but there have been stories for years about Mr S, and they did a nice recap just before the million dollar match taking the rise out of the ECB.

    PE may be a greasy little publication but it does get it right 9 times out of 10.



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  • 23. At 7:25pm on 24 Feb 2009, SouthWestSpur wrote:

    Mihir,

    Lawrence Booth at the Guardian says he was present when ECB members were shown Private Eye's expose of Stanford in the summer of 2008.

    So they have known something was fishy more than three weeks ago. Giles Clarke was fiddling as Lord's burned - he needs to fall on his sword.

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  • 24. At 9:42pm on 24 Feb 2009, fergaljpc wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 25. At 9:48pm on 24 Feb 2009, fergaljpc wrote:

    how marvelous that Mr. Bose talks with the benefit of hindsight once again. Suggestion and rhetoric once again to the fore of your argument and and once again i speculate, like Mr. Bose consistently does on his blog, that the moderators will see that this post will not be published.
    The ECB members have been muttering quietly about the legitimacy of Brand Stanford for a long time but as long as Alan was buying everybody was happy to jump in. On a cricket note the fact that we haven't won a competitive match test/20/50 since is slightly worrying

    Ps typo was due to 2 year old editing and sending post

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  • 26. At 11:27pm on 24 Feb 2009, DavidLeigh wrote:

    Interesting maths!

    9000 emails read and understood at 2 emails per minute would equate to 75 hours of continuous reading. That is 10.7 normal working days of continuous reading.

    Fantastic!

    Hind sight does make one appear more clever, but it also an opportunity to reflect on past mistakes. Denial, however, is very worrying because it means the same mistake could happen again, at the expense of English cricket.

    I merely ponder over general principles of life.

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  • 27. At 11:52am on 25 Feb 2009, Wilo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 28. At 12:46pm on 25 Feb 2009, Moutarde wrote:


    "The ECB has to find a way of winning back the Indians"

    No, it doesn’t, it needs to concentrate on producing test players because that is what the English cricket fan wants above all else. Only a total idiot would think otherwise, which brings me on to my second point: I cannot believe that licence-fee money is paid to Mr Bose for this sort of vacuous, one-sided, out of touch article which appears to have been written by someone who has just finished primary school.

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  • 29. At 10:59pm on 25 Feb 2009, chris wrote:

    @ 21:

    The only thing we haven't had is a 24 style Lockdown.
    Or terrorists.
    And I think sand stopped play...

    How is it all the other international teams have managed to stay away from Stanford?

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  • 30. At 1:05pm on 26 Feb 2009, Hinders93 wrote:

    @29:

    The 1st reason all the other international teams stayed away from Stanford is because they weren't managed/run by greedy slimeballs.

    The 2nd reason is because they were mostly sensible enough to agree to take a deal from the Indians, and the English, because of a mistaken "Empire" culture felt themselves unable to do this.

    Both reasons come down to the fact that Giles Clarke has made monumental management errors, and should have had the balls to admit it and resign. The fact that he's just been re-elected shows that the whole of English cricket is managed poorly, not just the ECB, but most of the counties, too.

    Very very sad, and it makes you wonder what will happen in the future when the money rus short.

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  • 31. At 9:11pm on 26 Feb 2009, stevenrt wrote:

    In all of the furore regarding the checks and appropriateness of Allan Stanford working with the ECB and the calls for heads to role, I would just like to offer up the fact that he's a 'Sir.'
    I am not at all in support of any of the foolhardy exploits that the ECB has entered into with this man, but should we be calling for the monarch to abdicate or the Prime minister of the time to resign or apologise for equally not calling into question whether or not he should have been awarded such a title?
    All i'm saying is that it's always easy for the press and the armchair critics to stick the boot in with the benefit of hindsight, but somewhere along the line many others were also seduced by most probably, his money.
    Shame on them all.

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  • 32. At 00:07am on 27 Feb 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mihir:

    in your remarks that ecb was warned about the stanford situation...who was the organisation who went to notify the ecb about the situation.......

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 33. At 09:40am on 27 Feb 2009, Socaleigh wrote:

    Er, did the ECB ever visit Antigua? It never made sense - the level of investment versus returns could never be true. The airport upgrade, the new cricket ground, the bank, and then the level of support offered to the Govt. I don't think anyone who spent any amount of time in the country is surprised at the downfall of the Knight.

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  • 34. At 12:09pm on 27 Feb 2009, green44 wrote:

    after a brief but worrying absence happily, gorgeous, grinning stick-puppet (sir) allen stanford is now back on the us authorities’ radar.

    rather less cheerfully it seems he has been served with civil legal papers over an alleged $8.5 billion fraud at his financial group. for the high-rolling billionaire this must be rather difficult to bear.

    however, while it seems that stanford is determined to clear his name i expect that many of his depositors will be happy just to clear a cheque.

    (note to my friends at the ecb: like your granny told you; if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. oh yeah; and if you sup with the devil use a long spoon.)

    Just Whinging

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  • 35. At 05:14am on 19 Mar 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mihir:
    In my earlier post, I forgot to asked the question? What did the ECB do with the information that it received regarding the ECB on the Stanford case...

    -Dennis Junior-

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