Allen Stanford: The Man Who Bought Cricket


Allen Stanford grew up in Mexia, Texas and graduated from university with a BA degree in finance. He was also the chairman of the now non-existent Stanford Financial Group of Companies. Although he was from the United States, he lived in the US Virgin Islands and also holds dual citizenship with the US and Antigua and Barbuda.


His first involvement in cricket came when he created and funded the Stanford 20/20 Tournament, a domestic competition between Caribbean island nations. Stanford proposed growing cricket in the West Indies by creating a new T20 tournament, an already popular format worldwide. It was hosted in Antigua and Barbuda in the Stanford Cricket Ground, which he built for the tournament. The first edition was in the year 2006 with Guyana winning in the final against Trinidad and Tobago. This launched the format of T20 cricket in the West Indies. The second edition of the tournament took place in early 2008 and had a global viewership of around 300 million people, with Trinidad and Tobago taking home the trophy.


Stanford’s plan from the first edition of the Stanford 20/20 was to have the best players from the tournament to be a part of an All Stars Team, known as the Stanford Superstars, who would play against an international side. This would also involve the winner of the Stanford 20/20 to play against the winner of England’s domestic T20 competition, the T20 Blast. This fixture happened in October 2008, with Trinidad and Tobago beating Middlesex to earn $280,000. 


Initially, Stanford’s plans for the international fixtures were unsuccessful. South Africa had planned to play against the Stanford Superstars for a prize of $5 million, but these plans fell through due to scheduling issues with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). Regardless, Stanford still looked to expand the idea of the tournament and had wished to invite Sri Lanka, South Africa, India and Australia to Antigua and Barbuda to play in a four way tournament, with the winner taking on the Superstars. However, these plans also failed because of contractual issues with the International Cricket Council (ICC). After this, and another failed deal with India, Stanford increased the prize money at stake to $20 million and eventually signed a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). This would involve five T20 matches across five years in the Stanford Super Series between the Stanford Superstars and the England national side, with the winner of each game earning $20 million.


The first match of the Series, known as The 20/20 For 20, took place on the 1st November 2008, with the Stanford Superstars beating England by ten wickets and earning $20 million. However, after the first year the tournament began to fall apart as Stanford disbanded his team of 12 ambassadors for the tournament, known as the Stanford Legends. Then, reports surfaced that Stanford and the Stanford Financial Group Of Companies were investigated for fraud. This led to the ECB and WICB terminating all contracts with him. It was later discovered that the Stanford 20/20 Tournament was a method of laundering his income from his fraudulent business groups which led to him being convicted of fraud in 2012 and him being sentenced to 110 years in prison.