SIR ALLEN STANFORD is a name Americans are only just becoming familiar with. But, over on the other side of the pond, Stanford has been making regular appearances on the front page of the tabloids.
Stanford has become as notorious in Britain as Bernie Madoff is in the United States, mainly through his involvement with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Only last summer, the Texan billionaire, who is being accused of an $8 billion fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission, was hailed as the savior of English cricket.
Stanford landed his black and silver branded helicopter at Lord’s in London to make millionaires of England’s cricketers.
He agreed to support five Twenty20 (short-form) matches between the Stanford Super Stars – made up of international cricketers from the West Indies – and the England Test team at $20 million a pop.
The first “Stanford Challenge” took place in Antigua on November 1 and resulted in a crushing victory for the host nation.
But of far more interest to the editors of Britain’s “red top” newspapers were the pictures of Stanford bouncing the pregnant wife of the England wicketkeeper on his knee.
Apparently, some of the England team were upset about Stanford’s regular visits to their inner sanctum – i.e the dressing room.
It was then that some of England’s former cricketing greats started to voice their concern about whether the sport’s association with Stanford was entirely ethical.
So imagine the reaction last week when it was revealed that all their fears about Stanford’s possibly sleazy past look like coming true.
England officials stumped by Texan tycoon
There were calls for Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB, to resign. Clarke, however, is determined to ride out the storm.
“We have to raise our monies from all kinds of place. Sport cannot exist without money,” he said.
“The issue at the time was ‘Can he (Stanford) pay?’ When somebody offers those sorts of sums of money you want to be completely satisfied he’s going to be capable of paying. He actually did pay and he was capable of paying.”
While Clarke insist the ECB conducted due diligence, the shocks waves of the Stanford affair are still being felt throughout the sports world.
New York Yankees baseball stars Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady had their assets frozen while Phillies reliever Scott Eyre says he’s “broke.”
England footballer Michael Owen and Fijian golfer Vijay Singh are other sportsmen believed to have been victims of Stanford’s Ponzi scheme.
As in the case of Madoff, the list is sure to grow in the coming weeks as 58-year-old Stanford, who holds joint US and Antiguan citizenship, is a flamboyant figure with links to prominent politicians and sports stars.
Stanford was tracked down to Fredericksburg, Virigina, last Thursday. For once, his personal photographer was not with him.
Who said there’s no such thing as bad publicity?