The war we don’t need …

War

On August 1, 2017 WPBSA published  this article

Following an inappropriate and unconstitutional attempt by some members of the International Billiards and Snooker Association (IBSF) to control seats within the World Confederation of Billiards Sports, the WPBSA will be distancing itself completely from the IBSF.

All World Snooker Tour places allocated to the IBSF will be removed with immediate effect. Any organisation staging events which hold two-year WSL tour cards for the winners should check with the WPBSA before taking any entries.

The WPBSA has had serious concerns for some time about governance standards within some Cue Sport organisations. The WPBSA is committed promoting the principles of good governance in sport and will continue to work with National Federations who share the same vision for the future.

For us fans, it came a bit like a thunderstorm on blue skies day. What was happening there?

On August 3, IBSF responded as explained by David Cauldfield on his blog

Here is a large excerpt:

“We at IBSF feel responsible to explain to you the circumstances of what happened between IBSF and WPBSA recently,” opened the statement.

“Both parties signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU) in 2013 to cooperate and establish World Snooker Federation (WSF) as a representative of snooker in the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS).

“After almost four years, WSF could not form a legal status for snooker. We were expecting WSF to be a legal world confederation, and the status of snooker is still not legalized in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other institutions.

“WPBSA did several acts against the interests of the IBSF member countries, for instance:

– WPBSA interfered in the internal affairs of IBSF more than once.

– WPBSA did not abide by its agreement with IBSF and it continued interfering in the internal affairs of some IBSF member countries and continental federations.

– WPBSA extended financial and media aid to several organizations to organize events, world women championships and English Billiards championship, which acted against the interests of IBSF.

– WPBSA did not try to support IBSF or continental federations with regard to the wild cards and spots for the IBSF players in the 6-Red Championship for professionals.

– WPBSA continued to make IBSF champions to sign unfair contracts to grant them wild cards without considering the interests of their national federations.

“Considering the above mentioned facts and many other issues which are out of the scope of this letter, WPBSA tried to make the WSF a private company registered in London.”

“IBSF considered that if this was permitted to happen it puts an end to the IBSF. So, we felt responsible to guard the interests of IBSF and its members.”

The statement later reads: “During the World Games in Poland recently, WPBSA tried to get our approval for separation from the WCBS and shape a new federation away from the World Poolbilliard Association (WPA) and Union Mondiale de Billiard (UMB).

“The WPBSA had already disrupted our relations with the WPA and UMB who are partners in the WCBS, which is the official confederation to deal with the IOC.

“Despite all the above, we have done our duty to protect the status of snooker with IOC and its entities, and to correct what had been ruined by WPBSA during the past two years.

“Notwithstanding, IBSF were willing to keep the WPBSA representative in the WCBS board, but WPBSA wants to impose its conditions on IBSF in choosing the IBSF representatives in the WCBS.

“We were surprised with the WPBSA’s approach during the recent days. IBSF is an officially registered international sports federation, hence, we will not show abrupt reactions, but we will certainly do what we have to do very soon.

“We will advise and inform the concerned authorities of international sports establishments, National Olympic Committees, and international media, that the IBSF rights are reserved as the Sole Official International Governing Body of snooker worldwide.”

In his article David explains the context in which this response came into the public eye, I can only strongly advise that you read it in full.

The next development was the announcement that Jason Fergusson is stepping down from his post as of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports. This was posted on WPBSA Website on August 9, 2017

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson has today resigned his position as President of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS) and severed all links to the organisation.

This announcement comes following the success of the 2017 World Games Billiards Sports event in Wroclaw, Poland. This decision was taken because despite him taking all possible steps to improve the governance standards within the organisation, the WCBS still fails to meet the standards required by the WCBS Constitution and sports industry best practice.

Sport in the modern world has to follow the best governance practice and be transparent in its processes. The WPBSA will continue to champion the sport and do everything it can to obtain Olympic status for Billiard Sports.

And today, David Cauldfield reports that, in a letter to IBSF and its members, Jason Ferguson strongly refutes the IBSF allegations.

Again, here is a large excerpt but, again, I strongly recommend that you read David’s full article to understand the context:

Ferguson said: “The principle of the MoU between the IBSF and the WPBSA and the proposed formation of the WSF were originally approved by the IOC.”

“Numerous meetings have been held between the IBSF and the WPBSA in order to try to agree the establishment of the WSF, without success.

“As you well know, the key obstacle to achieving that objective has been the actions of the IBSF due to its fear that the WSF would replace the IBSF, as you have referenced in your letter.

“It has been the IBSF which has blocked the incorporation of the WSF, not the WPBSA as you falsely claim.

“The WPBSA’s view was that the WSF should be incorporated as an English company to help to ensure that it had appropriate governance standards and transparency.

“We had proposed that the WSF should be a company limited by guarantee (being the form of entity adopted by many other sports governing bodies, including The European Billiards & Snooker Association (EBSA)).

“We had however also suggested an alternative proposal, for the WSF to be incorporated in Switzerland, being the jurisdiction of the IOC and many other international federations.”

….

Ferguson also lambasted the IBSF’s “extraordinary and nonsensical assertion that the IBSF is the sole official governing body for snooker.”

“The WPBSA has acted as a governing body to the World Snooker Tour for many years, as well as supporting many amateur federations and sports development initiatives.

“The only other body which has previously been considered the official governing body of billiard sports in the world was the Billiards and Snooker Control Council, the business and assets of which (including but not limited to all intellectual property and other rights to snooker and English Billiards) were acquired by the WPBSA in the 1990’s.”

“The WPBSA has never tried to exploit the WCBS for its own commercial interests, WPBSA is a not for profit international sports federation and any money generated is reinvested back into the sport.

“In fact, the WPBSA has only ever supported the WCBS in its aims and objectives.

“This has included the payment of membership fees and expenses to key third party
organisations when the WCBS was not in a position to make payments.

Ferguson later stated that “the WPBSA has not tried to ‘erase the IBSF from the world snooker scene’.”

“In line with the feedback from the IOC, the WPBSA does strongly believe that one worldwide governing body for snooker is a necessary step to maximise its chances of attaining an Olympic place.”

“The WPBSA also believes that, due to the WCBS’s refusal to comply with IOC-recognised governance best practice, there is now no question that new arrangements will need to be put in place to achieve the Olympic ambitions.”

So where does this leave us?

What we are facing is a war, or at best a bitter divorce,  between the body in charge of the professional game, and the main organisation in charge of the amateur game at international level. The first obvious consequence of this conflict is that several traditional routes for amateurs to access the professional status are now closed, leaving us basically with the Q-School as the sole option, and, as I explained previously, the Q-School system, in its current form, is extremely biased in favour of UK players and not adequate to help snooker’s development as a global sport.

I don’t think that WPBSA in its current form and size, has the means, structures and resources – financial and human – to cater for the amateur game and the countless national and regional bodies in charge, neither that it has the desire to get deeply involved at the amateur level. Without a strong amateur field, a sport is doomed, just like a plant cut off its roots. Already now, there aren’t that many young players coming through except from China where the state invests in the sport and structures are in place to nurture talents.

I don’t know the full facts, so I won’t make definite judgements, or name names, but there is one thing I’m very certain about: this is a fight for power and control over snooker: egos and financial interests are clashing badly, and some people involved don’t care one bit for the sport, they only care for their status and money, not the good of the game. This is always true, in any instance of war or conflict, and this is a war. It’s extremely bad and worrying. We didn’t need this.