Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Court of King Allen

With the droit de seigneur images of players WAGs sitting on his lap being beamed onto the big screens during play, Mr Stanford's Circus has now officially descended to the level of 'grubby'.

When the guy first appeared on the scene, I was one of many who was prepared to give him airtime because he was pumping a lot of money into West Indies cricket, and we all have a soft spot for the West Indies - pretty much everyone's 'second favorite team'.

Admittedly his altruism came with strings attached, but it was possible to argue that the money at least heading in roughly the right direction, and that an injection on 20/20 razzmatazz would at least invigorate some of the grassroots in the Caribbean.

In retrospect you can argue ECB jumped into bed with him far to easily - overly keen to get someone with his wealth on their side, acting as a potential bulkward against the increasingly mighty Indian Cricket Board. Also, if someone lands their helicopter on the outfield and wanders into the Long Room with a box containing 20 million, you're going to sit up and take notice.

The fact he was an American billionaire with a somewhat shady history of financial irregularity, and, like many rich people, he has a particular aversion to paying his fair share of tax, was rather worrying - but we took into account that rich Americans have always had a streak of philanthropy coursing through their veins - if only to divert attention away from some of their less salubrious activities like fraud and union busting.

Then again, I doubt whether Carnegie, Vanderbilt or even Bill Gates ever demanded a lap dance from anyone as a price for their financial generosity.

STOP PRESS - Seems like the ECB might be having second thoughts.

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