Day Off in York

There was no play yesterday, and Ronnie took the opportunity to do a book signing session in Waterstones in Sheffield, as well as meeting with friends for a meal.

The press also made the most of the day off by publishing various off-the-table stories, and here is a selection of what I found interesting:

Mark King spoke to the BBC about how his gambling addiction impacted his life.

Peter Lines, talking to the Yorshire Post, revealed why he considered quitting snooker entirely.

John Higgins told the BBC about his fears he could become a journeyman whilst going trhough a lean spell a couple of years ago.

And young James Cahill, Stephen Hendry’s nephew, revealed to the BBC how low he feels about his game, his future on the main tour and that he could call it a day on his career at the end of this season.

James, just like Mark King and Anthony Hamilton, mentioned that they are skint and how nearly impossible it is to sustain the costs of playing on the main tour if you’re not at the top, and nobody starts at the top. The discussion, yesterday, came on to twitter and I got involved. I did a very simple thing: I looked at the sheet published on Worldsnooker, took my pocket calculator, and did the maths. A lower ranked player, who isn’t taking part to any invitational event, but does play and win their first match in every tournament available to them, will get just below 40K, before taxes. Several bloggers and players managers have done an estimate of what it costs, just to play, and came up with numbers between 20K and 25K. That’s just to cover the entry fees and the travel expenses. It may look to be a lot but entry fees aren’t cheap at all and, planes and hotels aren’t either. Remember that, if a player doesn’t turn up at the main event, after winning their qualif matches, they get nothing. So, let’s take an example: a player winning their qualifying match at the International Championship will have to travel to China, and that means at least two planes both ways, as the tournament is held in Daqing. It’s a very long couple of flight, and even in economy class it’s not cheap. In Daqing, in this particular tournament, the hotel is paid by the sponsor, but only whilst the player is still in the tournament. Which means they have the following choice: either they book their planes with fixed return date, and if they lose early they will be stuck in Daqing (which no one wants to do after losing anyway) and have to fork out for their hotel themselves, or they take an open return option and it will add considerably to their flights costs. Whatever, it costs them. So, in fact what they get – IF they win their first match every time – is about 1K to 1.2K per month. Not much he? Especially if you have a family to support, or if you are an expat in UK. So, that is what I posted and it earned me a spat with the boss himself. Indeed I got an answer from Barry Hearn: “Rubbish!”. Really Barry? It’s simple maths … and of course I got no further explanation as to why my post was “rubbish”, very simply because it isn’t, it’s the sad state of things for those not at the very top, whatever Barry Hearn wants us to believe. Barry always goes on about “not supporting mediocrity”. I agree with the principle, but what about investing in the future? Because snooker is a very difficult game, and it takes time to climb to the top. Would have Neil Robertson be able to survive nowadays to realise his huge potential? I think not. I don’t think that a teenager, for all his huge talent, alone far away from his family, with £500 in his pocket and his game very raw because he never played top opposition at home would stay any sort of chance in today’s system, where he would have to play a top 64 every first match and get nothing at all when he loses. And that doesn’t bode well for the future.