London:English cricket officials began several days of talks with an American billionaire on Tuesday in a last-ditch bid to set up a rival to the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The talks between the Antigua-based Allen Stanford and the top brass of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) come just four days before the billion dollar-IPL championship kicks off in Kolkata Friday.
Stanford, who runs a Twenty20 league in the Caribbean and requested the meeting, is thought to be a potential partner of the ECB.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke is reported to have been sufficiently "intrigued" by the Texan-born billionaire's offer to discuss it with English players at a meeting in New Zealand last month.
Before Tuesday's meeting, he said: "We don't want a knee-jerk reaction to the IPL but we believe that we can set up a robust, spectator-friendly, economically sustainable competition of our own which will not cut across the core revenue streams of Test and one-day international cricket."
Although details of Stanford's offer are not known, the Times newspaper said he could be wishing to express an interest in any international dimension of a new league to be introduced at the height of the English summer.
It said England has the inherent advantage of its cricket season coming at what is the low point of the cricket year for other nations for climate reasons.
The ECB's meeting with Stanford will also include discussion about a Stanford 20/20 challenge during England's tour of West Indies next year.
Clarke is expected to attend the IPL launch along with ECB chief executive David Collier and commercial director John Perera.