Blimey, Sir Allen

I MUST admit, I felt a tinge of disappointment when Sir Allen Stanford failed to win the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award a couple of months ago.

The Texan oil billionaire surely deserved the prize for achieving the impossible feat of making cricket seem a bit sleazy, thanks to the Stanford Series. But no, instead it went to some bloke who can run quickly.

Even more disappointingly, there wasn’t even an internet campaign orchestrated by cheeky online mischief makers to get Stanford the prize.

No web version, then, of the Angling Times’ ultimately unsuccessful bid to rig the 1991 vote for the main SPOTY award in favour of carp catcher (or, if you prefer, chub chaser) Bob Nudd.

No equivalent, either, of the tongue-in-cheek campaign that saw David Walliams from Little Britain top the bookies’ odds for what felt like months in 2006, before the SPOTY prize eventually went to a member of the Royal Family instead.

It’s a shame that this kind of frivolous mucking about with voting patterns now seems to be restricted to sprawling weekend entertainment shows in which celebrities in sequins dance badly and tearfully speak of “incredible journeys” as if they had arrived at the studio by riding bareback across several continents.

The British public took John Sargeant and Todd Carty to their hearts, so why not Sir Allen too? Especially as Stanford has done so much more than make a pillock of himself on a crummy celebrity talent show.

Stanford made a pillock of himself on a worldwide scale, and took an entire sport with him. First, he dangled $20million (or £12.4million) in front of England’s cricketers, then plonked Matt Prior’s wife on his lap in full view of TV cameras in the middle of a game.

If only the bad news for Stanford had stopped there. But it didn’t. He was yesterday charged over an alleged $8billion investment fraud by the US authorities.

“We are alleging a fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world,” said Rose Romero of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US financial regulator which has been investigating Stanford.

The SEC has applied for a temporary restraining order against Stanford. (No, not in that sense. Stop sniggering at the back.)

Not surprisingly, the England and Wales Cricket Board have suspended talks with Stanford over future sponsorship. The chances of another clash with the Stanford Superstars are slimmer than Barry Bethell at the end of his Slimfast diet.

(Incidentally, out of curiosity, I did a Google search on Bethell to find out what happened to him. As I don’t particularly fancy being charged with contempt of court, I’m not going to make any comment about what I found.)

ECB chairman Giles Clarke has correctly pointed out that Stanford has every right to defend himself against the fraud allegations. So you’d better get on with it, Sir Allen.

In the meantime, the campaign starts here. For his ability to make headlines, even in places where people think cricket is primarily a type of insect, Sir Allen Stanford has to be the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year for 2009.

I’m pretty sure he’s already got one vote within the BBC. Step forward the corporation’s sports editor Mihir Bose, who compared him to Nelson Mandela in late October, seemingly on the basis that Stanford made an effort to pronounce the reporter’s name correctly. Inspired, Mihir, inspired.


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