Money, money …

This was published today by Worldsnooker, no doubt in answer to Ronnie’s criticisms

Players throughout the World Snooker Tour are earning more prize money than ever before as the sport continues to grow worldwide.

During the 2017/18 season a record £13.7 million was paid out. Those at the top are earning vast sums, with four players earning over £500,000 for the first time: Mark Williams (£898,776), Ronnie O’Sullivan (£888,000), John Higgins (£612,372) and Mark Selby (£565,085).

Overall the top 16 earned £7.30m, a 29% increase on the previous season. Those ranked 17-32 earned £2.27m (42% increase), those ranked 33-64 earned £2.27m (46% increase) and those ranked outside of the top 64 earned £1.46m (45% increase).

These figures reflect that fact that snooker’s commercial success has benefited all players, and that prize money increases have been spread out across the tour. In addition, entry fees for players to enter tournaments were abolished in 2017, reducing expenses significantly for all players.

Craig Steadman is currently in 64th place on the 2018-19 season one-year list, having earned £16,500 so far from eight of the season’s 20 ranking events.

Craig Steadman

“I think a lot of players would agree with me if I say there has never been a better time to be a player,” said Steadman. “As far as I’m concerned the more tournaments the better.

“Last week I lost 6-5 in the first round of the UK Championship and I don’t want to be sitting at home licking my wounds, I’d rather be looking forward to the next tournament, which is in Scotland next week. Ten years ago there were only six tournaments and if you lost a qualifier you’d have nothing for two months.

“The other advantage of having so many events is that it improves you as a player, which is what we all want. When I started playing snooker as a kid I wanted to play every day and I still do.

“Some players might want to be paid a fortune just for turning up, but that’s not reality. It’s tough when you lose, but there are plenty of opportunities to win matches and earn prize money.”

No Craig, it’s not about players just wanting to be paid a fortune for turning up …

Actually you are just making Ronnie’s case more obvious.

Here is Craig’s results so far this season as reported on cuetracker

Except at the Riga Masters, where he reached the last 16, He’s never got further than the last 32. So he was probably out of every tournament he played at the latest mid-week, leaving him with plenty of time to practice and prepare for the next. And he’s qualified for the main event in China only once, and immediately lost, which means that he only had to travel across time zones once and had plenty of time to recover from jet lag before the next event. Yes it suits him, no doubt, although £165000 since June, before taxes and expenses is hardly a fortune. But what he got, he got it because the top players attract sponsors, broadcasters and audience. Yes, the top players are the ones bringing the money AND they are the ones who suffer most from the hectic schedule because they reach the latter stages of most tournaments they enter.

And apparently they should shut up as well.

4 thoughts on “Money, money …

  1. What the World Snooker says about the increase in earnings may be true, but that’s just comparing snooker to snooker. And I’m pretty sure Ronnie compares snooker to other sports in this regard as well. Last season was his best ever and he made only £888.000. That’s light years away from what Đoković earned this year. Actually, in 2018 only, Đoković made two million pounds more than O’Sullivan in his entire career. Two virtually unknown players that only play doubles, Pavić and Marach, earned this year as much as he did last season. 130 golfers made more. You would struggle to find a player with a such a low wage on a top Premier League side. 97% of the NBA players make more money than that, even those that are not good enough to see any playing time.

  2. In Ronnie’s discussion with the BBC pundits (Hazel, Steve, and Ken) yesterday, he seemed to eventually get them to agree that a few “tweaks” are needed to the current system. In my view, the minimum tweaks required are to:

    1. Create the schedule such that no tournament begins the day after the previous tournament ended. Ideally, there would be an entire week between the final Sunday of one event and the initial Monday of the next event.

    If this tweak cannot be accommodated under the existing number of tournaments and months of the snooker season, then Barry Hearn should either reduce the number of tournaments or stretch the season over more months in the calendar.

    2. Bring the rating system into the 21st century by using some kind of weighted average rather than simply using the money list. Look to golf or tennis for possible examples, and base a player’s rating on a (logical) measure of his performance rather than on the amount of money he has earned. Players should be rewarded for how far they make it in a tournament and the quality of the players they beat. rather than being rewarded for simply playing a lot of events. Plus, it’s irrational for players to earn 2-3 times more rating points in China events than they earn for many of the European events, simply because there is more sponsorship money in China than in Europe. There is no rational nexus between the quantity of sponsorship money available and how good a player is, and therefore a player’s rating should not be impacted by the quantity of sponsorship money available.

    • YES! YES! A rating system that measures performance to determine who are the best! The thing is, many people, including Ronnie, are SO CLOSE to the right idea, which would solve ALMOST ALL of the problems. However, ultimately everyone talks about ‘ranking points’ and ‘ranking tournaments’ and so the debate fizzles out just before it becomes workable. It’s a mental block that is suffocating the game.

  3. Well for me it’s not just a question of whether now is a good time to be a snooker player or not. It’s obviously better now for players such as Craig Steadman if he can play more and earn more than 10 years ago. Perhaps this applies to around 30 journeymen players. But it’s a question of sustainability and the future of the game. That, coupled with the concerns you have raised with all these betting companies sponsoring most of the events.

    What lies behind my depressing posts is a fear (or maybe realisaion) that the future will involve a breakaway-of-sorts (Ronnie and others preferring to play matches outside of the main tour), the demise of snooker as an international game (failure of overseas players to break through), a decade dominated by Kyren Wilson, consequent loss of funding and sponsorship leading to a reduced tour once again. I suppose we’ll still have the Youtube videos, and can say that ‘it was fun while it lasted’.

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