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CPL all set


CRAIG COZIER

CPL all set

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THE OWNERS of the new Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Verus International, have promised an investment “in the hundreds of millions” to establish the competition among cricket’s Twenty20 elite.
In a media conference yesterday at the Cove Spring House in St Peter, West Indies Cricket Board president (WICB) Julian Hunte confirmed that the WICB had penned a lucrative 20-year deal with the international merchant bank, but declined to disclose financial details.
“It is a partnership, but we have given a licence to Verus that they own the CPL and we assist wherever we can. The way in which we do business, we expect that there will be consultation,” Hunte said.
“People like WIPA will be involved, and we’ll try to make it as holistic as possible, but it will be driven by Verus and not the WICB.”
Hunte also said the board had been extra cautious this time following its earlier relationship with Allen Stanford, the disgraced Texan financier who is now in jail for fraud.
The multi-million deal with Verus, he added, would allow for greater professionalism of the game across the region with financial benefits not only going to those players involved in the new league but allowing for retainer contracts for a broader pool of players.
Hunte also confirmed the new tournament would take over from the board’s intra-regional Caribbean Twenty20 whose final edition will take place next month with the winners getting a ticket to the 2013 Champions League.
Ajmal Khan, chairman and CEO of Verus International,  said his fervour for the project was cultivated with both his heart and his head.
“Living in Barbados since 1997, I’ve got to become very fond of this island and this region, the people and the passion and cricket being at the heart of it. It’s literally a religion here,” Khan said.
“I felt over the last year that the time had come to be able to create this platform here that I think will become one of the most enviable franchises that we can create anywhere in the world,” he added.
“With that, I’m looking to invest whatever it takes, in the hundreds of millions, in order to be able to bring this passion, this whole aspect into a reality that is sustainable.
Khan, of Indian descent, was born in Nigeria to a British diplomat father. He was educated in England and has lived and travelled all over the world as a career entrepreneur.
Dirk Hall, managing director of Verus International, said that the league planning was in its early stages but that there were likely to be six franchises based in separate countries with the event lasting one month. Each franchise will play each other home and away [30 matches] before the knockout stages.
“We are talking to lots of different potential owners of franchises. We are going to begin discussions with various stakeholders in various regions,” Hall said. “We are going to get local and international potential owners and sponsors involved in the league. It’s a lot to put together in a short amount of time.
Barbados Cricket Association president,  Joel Garner, was confident Barbados would be home to one of the privately owned franchises.
“I will put my head on the block . . .We have the facilities. We have a world-class stadium, we’ve got lights,” Garner said.
“If you look, almost all the [major] finals have been held here in Barbados. We have a user-friendly government and a government that is friendly towards cricket and business on a whole. I think we are in a good position,” he added.
Garner was among a host of local and regional cricketing heavyweights
at the press launch at Khan’s US$50 million west coast mansion.

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