End of the “experiment”

WST published this today … 

Following today’s announcement from the UK Government that the easing of certain restrictions in England has been postponed, there will be no access for fans to the Betfred World Championship from Saturday August 1.

Fans at the Crucible for the rest of today (Friday) will be able to watch the action live, but from tomorrow the event will be played behind closed doors. WST remains hopeful that a small crowd will be allowed for the final on August 15 and 16, and will follow Government advice on this.

The Betfred World Championship had been selected by the Government as one of the small number of pilot events for safe the return of spectators to live sport, and it was the only indoor event.

However today’s announcement included restriction on crowd access at all of these pilot sporting events.

Fans who had tickets for the Crucible will be offered the chance to transfer them to the 2021 event, or will be offered a full refund.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We realise this will be a huge disappointment for fans who were excited to witness the magic of the Crucible over the next fortnight, and we feel the same ourselves.

“At every stage of this process we have been following Government guidelines and working with them on the correct procedures. We have had very positive feedback from the Government, they have been impressed by the measures we have implemented.  Safety has always been our number one priority and we have met every aspect of the Government guidelines in this regard.

“Above all it’s a great shame for people who had those golden tickets, but in the circumstances we are now living in we have to accept the decision and move on.

“Snooker has led the way in terms of the return of live sport, in recent weeks we have been the first to stage live televised events and now live events with a small crowd. In the months to come we will  continue to find innovative ways to bring sport back safely and entertain our many millions of fans around the globe.”

Fans who have tickets will be contacted soon by the tickets providers to explain how to transfer to next year or receive a refund.

There you have it.

Having their tickets transferred or refunded will not console the fans, especially those who took days off work, traveled and booked hotels for this.

The UK proved to be one of the worst countries in the way they handled this crisis, with England boasting the highest death rate in Europe. The northern part of England was particularly hard hit. Yet, a gamble was taken to bring back fans “live” at sporting events, including indoors at the Crucible in Yorkshire, a small intimate venue with poor ventilation.  This was irresponsible, this was putting money and business ahead of people’s lives, whilst shielding behind “government guidance”. Eventually, the risk was too high even for Boris Johnson’s government.

This morning, I was watching the snooker on television. Barry Hearn, all smiles, and again very rude to Anthony Hamilton. In stark contrast, WPBSA chairman, Jason Ferguson was class.

Most fans were watching without a mask in a venue relying on air conditioning for ventilation. I won’t lie, it made me both angry and apprehensive. Thankfully, it’s over. Hopefully nobody will be infected by the end of today.

Don’t get me wrong. The efforts made by WST and WPBSA to make the previous events, played behind closed doors, safe were outstanding. They only deserve praise for the way the CLS, the Tour Championship and the World Qualifiers were run in recent months. But as soon as you introduce a crowd, and rely on everyone attending to act responsibly, it’s out of your control. It only takes one idiot to compromise everyone’s safety, and there is always (at least) one idiot. This was a very serious risk, one that in my opinion should never have been taken.

I was branded “negative”. Those who know me, know I’m nothing like that. But I’m not reckless either, and I value my and others’ lives and health.

The 2020 World Championship continues. A number of people owe Anthony Hamilton an apology, including Barry Hearn. He was branded “selfish” for being sensible. He should have been playing this afternoon. He was looking forward to it until he realised that this was too risky given his health condition. He was publicly criticised and slated. He’s 49, he may never get another Crucible opportunity. He took a very difficult decision and now he must be devastated.

This is what Barry Hearn had to say about it:





More about the Crucible starting tomorrow …

Ronnie gave a quite positive interview to Eurosport.

You can listen here

This is an excertp sahed by ES on twitter

Anthony Hamilton has apologised to his beaten qualifiers opponents:

It’s been reported by various sources, but here is David Caulfield piece

Anthony Hamilton: “I want to apologise to my opponents at the qualifiers.”

The World Snooker Championship gets under way on Friday in Sheffield.

Anthony Hamilton has decided to withdraw from the Betfred World Championship for medical reasons.

Hamilton came through the qualifying rounds, winning two matches, but subsequently decided to pull out of the event as he suffers from chronic asthma.

He had been due to face Kyren Wilson in the last 32 at the Crucible on Friday afternoon, with the second session on Saturday evening. Wilson now receives a bye to the last 16.

“It has been a really difficult decision for me,” said 49-year-old Anthony Hamilton, from Nottingham.

“I was extremely impressed by the way that WST and their partners ran the qualifying rounds, they made the players feel totally safe.”

“And I realise they have followed all of the government guidelines and implemented extensive measures for the main event at the Crucible.

“However due to my health condition, after careful consideration I have decided not to play in the final stages.

“I want to apologise to my opponents at the qualifiers, Sam Craigie and Scott Donaldson, and assure them that I had every intention of playing at the Crucible.

“But it was only after I finished the qualifying rounds that I was able to do a full personal risk assessment based on the latest information and discussions with WST.

“I am absolutely gutted not to be playing because it is the best tournament and the Crucible is the home of snooker.

“I wish everyone the best and hope the event is a great success.”

World number 48 Hamilton will receive the £20,000 he earned by reaching the last 32 and that will count towards his world ranking.

WST has announced the Crucible referees:

Here are the men and women in black for this year’s Betfred World Championship.

2020 Crucible Referees

Marcel Eckardt – Germany (Final)

Brendan Moore – England

Jan Verhaas – Holland

Paul Collier –  Wales

Leo Scullion – Scotland

Desislava Bozhilova – Bulgaria

Rob Spencer – England

Tatiana Woollaston – Belarus

Ben Williams –  England




Anthony Hamilton withdraws from the World Championship

The news has been announced by multiple sources.

Here is the BBC reporting on it:

World Snooker Championship: Anthony Hamilton withdraws over health concerns, says Barry Hearn

Anthony Hamilton
Hamilton has reached the World Championship quarter-finals four times

Anthony Hamilton has withdrawn from the World Championship because of coronavirus health concerns, World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn says.

The tournament begins on Friday and will be the first indoor sporting event with crowds since lockdown, with around 300 people attending each session.

The 49-year-old Hamilton, who suffers from severe asthma, had been due to face Kyren Wilson in the first round.

“He is worried about his own health,” Hearn told Talksport.

“The question I pose is why did he not withdraw before the qualifying competition, because by getting through the qualifiers he has effectively stopped someone else from going and earning a living.

“He entered a competition knowing while he was in that competition, he knew there was going to be fans present.

“Why did he not withdraw then instead of knocking someone else out and stopping them earning a living, instead of withdrawing afterwards so that we’re a player short?

“He hasn’t had asthma that started yesterday. He’s had asthma and health issues for some time.”

Hamilton is expected to confirm his withdrawal in a statement later on Thursday.

Hamilton booked his place in the final stages of the tournament for the first time in 12 years with a 10-5 win against Scott Donaldson in the final qualifying round on Monday.

But the world number 48 called the decision to allow spectators at the Crucible “ridiculous” and said he would “definitely not” have played in the qualifiers had they been staged in similar circumstances.

Hamilton, who will still receive £20,000 for qualifying, withdrew from the Tour Championship – the first event that was played on the sport’s return – because of health concerns and called the decision to allow people to take off their masks in the auditorium “a mad thing”.

Honestly, Barry Hearn questions are a bit silly. Why did he enter? Because, as it stands it’s £20000 in his pocket. Players are self-employed, when not playing they earn nothing. They haven’t got many opportunities to play since March, but the bills still need paying and they need to eat. Anthony is 49 and probably hasn’t that many years left in him. Players in his situation can’t really pass on the opportunity to earn £20000. Add to that that until recently, it looked almost certain that there would be no crowd at the Crucible, and certainly not as much as 300+ of them. Anthony claims that had he known at the time of entering the qualifiers he would have given it a miss. So, that’s Kyren Wilson through to the last 16. He won’t complain I guess.




Ronnie expresses his support to Anthony Hamilton’s concerns

On the eve of the championship, the press is full of Ronnie’s “lab rats” quotes. A number of these articles not mentioning the full context in which Ronnie’s comments were made.

Ronnie has expressed concerns about having a crowd at the Crucible before. Now he has come in support of Anthony Hamilton, who has been shielding because he’s suffering from asthma and he does not feel comfortable playing at the Crucible with a crowd around, even if it’s not full capacity. The virus is airborne and the temperature within the Crucible will quickly become unbearable if the air conditioning is not used. I speak from experience. It failed in 2011 during one session in the first round and some people had to leave feeling unwell. It very quickly became horribly hot. That was in April … we are now in the middle of the summer.

Shamoom Hafez from BBC is one who is giving the full context.

Here is the piece by BBC Shamoon Hafez

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Snooker players treated like ‘lab rats’

By Shamoon Hafez BBC Sport
29 July 2020.

Snooker players are being treated like “lab rats” by allowing spectators into the Crucible Theatre for the World Championship, says Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The tournament, which begins on Friday, will be the first indoor sporting event with crowds, allowing around 300 supporters to attend each session.

Qualifier Anthony Hamilton, who suffers from severe asthma, says it is “ridiculous” and “too early” for fans.

Five-time world champion O’Sullivan said players “all run a bit of a risk”.

A number of sports have already returned behind closed doors but snooker will be the second government-backed pilot event after the Surrey v Middlesex friendly in cricket to be staged in front of fans.

Those that have booked tickets to attend the Sheffield venue will be placed in ‘bubbles’ of up to four people – limited to a maximum of two households – and will be socially distanced from others in the arena.

Temperature checks will not be in place and face masks must be worn around the venue but can be removed once seated inside.

World number 48 Hamilton pulled out of the Tour Championship – the first event that was played on the sport’s return – because of health concerns and called the decision to allow people to take off their masks in the auditorium “a mad thing”.

He added: “Let’s say one person gets ill and dies from the Crucible, that is one person who has died for no reason, just for entertainment.

“I won’t be comfortable in there personally, I don’t know why anybody would be comfortable, we all know it is airborne.”

World Snooker Tour said being designated as the first indoor event in the UK was a “fantastic triumph” and that health and safety was the “highest priority and protection for our fans, players and staff”.

Antony HamiltonHamilton, nicknamed the Sheriff of Pottingham, has reached the World Championship quarter-finals on four occasions

O’Sullivan said: “I defy anybody if they have been keeping their distance from people for four months to say, oh right, now you’ve got to go into a room full of people – unless you have got a death wish, and some people have in many ways and they just don’t care.

“But if you are one of these people that happens to care about your health and are taking it seriously, I totally get how he feels.

“I would feel a bit strange walking in a room with 10 people I don’t know, and I have done. I didn’t feel comfortable.

“So I totally respect where Anthony is coming from, and where other people are coming from – they want crowds in there, they want things back to normal. We have a choice we don’t have to go and play. We all run a bit of a risk.

“I don’t think it’s a risk worth taking. I have the option not to play but I’ve decided to play. Maybe with 5,000 fans I could see it’s a bit of an income you’re going to lose, but 200 fans, is it really?

“Maybe they have to start doing a test on crowds at some point and I’ve heard people say they’re treating the snooker event a little bit like lab rats – you’ve got to start somewhere, start with snooker players.

“Less insurance to pay out for Anthony Hamilton than there is for Lewis Hamilton.”

O’Sullivan says he has had friends die from Covid-19 and has not been within 20ft of his mum who is in the “high risk” category as she had pneumonia last year.

“It’s not until you’ve had people close to you that have gone through it, and know someone who has died,” he said.

“And I’ve had nurses who I have spoken to and they say, ‘People have come in with Covid-19 and they think they are going to be alright and it’s not until they can’t breathe that they say “please don’t let me die”.’

“Grown men and women crying their eyes out because they can’t breathe. It’s only when something like that happens and you hear those stories that you go ‘hold on a minute, this is serious’.

“I don’t think it has been taken seriously enough.”

The opening matches begin at 10:00 BST live across the BBC, with defending champion Judd Trump in action against Tom Ford, while O’Sullivan starts his campaign against Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh on Sunday.

It’s also the first time that Ronnie mentions his mother poor health, and knowing someone who died.

Ronnie will play Thepchaiya Un-nooh, starting on Sunday. Theppy will be match sharp and he’s a very dangerous player. If it wasn’t for a bout of misfortune, he would probably have beaten Judd Trump in the first round last year. Nobody knows how Ronnie will play, probably not even him. All seeds will come at the Crucible lacking match sharpness. A lot, I guess, will depend on how Ronnie feels both in the “bubble” and in the arena. But it’s a match Ronnie would enjoy under normal circumstances. It will be an open and fast game, and he will probably get chances, they both will. He likes and respects Thepchaiya. Hopefully it’s a good match.

An answer to my question about Shaun Murphy

A few days ago I asked a question … and it ruffled a few feathers. To be honest, I don’t understand why. I did put both WST and WPBSA in the loop on twitter.

They provided an answer, albeit not to me.

So here it is, as published by Davild Caulfield

Shaun Murphy in “Bubble” After Portugal Travel for Funeral

by July 29, 2020

The 2005 world champion was in the Algarve for the funeral of his former manager Brandon Parker last week.

The World Snooker Tour has cleared up some recent confusion about the circumstances surrounding the visit of Shaun Murphy to Portugal this month.

It had been made apparent that Murphy had flown to the Iberian Peninsula a week ago to mourn the loss of his close friend and former manager, Brandon Parker.

Questions were raised as to how this would impact his position in the upcoming 2020 World Snooker Championship, with potential self-isolation and quarantine rules to follow as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Englishman lives in Ireland, which imposes a 14-day isolation period, so there was speculation about whether or not he’d be able to compete in Sheffield.

But the WST has confirmed that the “Magician” has been in constant contact with them, and that he is following all the guidelines required in order to safely participate in this year’s delayed competition.

A spokesperson for the WST told SnookerHQ: “We are aware that Shaun Murphy visited Portugal last week to attend the funeral of his close friend and former manager, Brandon Parker.”

“He visited the Algarve, where the Covid-19 infection rate is very low. We have been in close contact with Shaun in recent days, and on arrival in the UK he travelled directly to Sheffield to enter the event bubble we had in place there for the Betfred World Championship qualifiers.

“The World Snooker Tour has strict measures in place regarding the travel of its elite competitors.

“Shaun had a COVID-19 test upon entering the event bubble which returned a negative result.

“He will remain in Sheffield within the event environment for the next week until his opening match at the Crucible on August 3rd. Prior to this, he will have another COVID-19 test.

“The Betfred World Championship is on the UK Government’s approved events list, and as a result, the elite players can travel under strict policies and guidelines.”

World number ten Murphy was drawn against Noppon Saengham in the first round of the World Championship on Wednesday morning.

So that clears things up. But why not explain this from the on?

The Crucible is coming … here is the draw.

This is the draw for the first round at the Crucible


It’s not an easy draw for Ronnie by any means, but at least Theppy is a player who plays fast and open. It won’t drag them and us in a quagmire of negative shots and it should be entertaining.

This is what Ronnie told Eurosport after the draw:

Un-Nooh overcame Liam Highfield in qualifying, and his reward is a second meeting with five-time world champion O’Sullivan, six years after he won their encounter at the German Masters.

The 44-year-old O’Sullivan has given his reaction to facing Un-Nooh in the opening round, and he is certainly not feeling an edge around the match given the good nature of his opponent.

“He’s a guy I like playing and one of the few I don’t actually mind losing to as he’s such a nice guy,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport after the draw.

Everyone on the circuit would love to see him do well and win tournaments as he’s a very humble and respected by everyone.

That doesn’t mean that Ronnie won’t try his best, but it’s a match he should be able to enjoy and I prefer it this way.

Here are some infos and guidelines for fans who wish to attend:

Have you got tickets for the Betfred World Championship or are you thinking of buying some? If you need more information, hopefully this answers your questions…

Are tickets still available?

Yes, limited numbers are still on sale for certain sessions – for details see www.cruciblesnooker.com

I had tickets for the original dates and I decided to keep them but I have not had confirmation yet, what should I do?

You will receive an email from the Crucible confirming the details of your E-tickets. It is a huge administration task for the Crucible to process every booking but rest assured if you opted to attend the 2020 event, you will have tickets. Keep an eye on your inbox!

Can I book tickets with people from a different household?

Tickets are available in fixed group sizes (bubbles) where one, two, three or four tickets are seated together and each group is distanced from the other groups in the auditorium. Each bubble can be purchased by only one booker, and as per government guidelines each booking is strictly limited to a maximum of two households.
Please select seats based on your group size. If you select a bubble of more seats than you intend to purchase, you will not be able to complete your purchase. For example if you want two tickets you will not be able to purchase within a bubble of four. If a bubble is not available for your group size, you are unable to purchase for that session.
Click here to see an example of the seating plan in line with guidance provided by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

What happens when I arrive at the venue?

There will be socially-distanced queuing systems in Tudor Square before the doors open, which will be open 45 minutes before the session starts. As you enter the venue, your bags will be checked. You will be given a face mask which must be worn while moving around the venue. Please head into the arena and find your seat, being very careful to turn your back if you are moving along rows past other fans. Once seated you can remove your face mask, then remember to put it back on whenever you leave your seat.

Will there be food and drink?

No, for hygiene reasons there will be no food and drink inside the venue. You can buy commentary radios, using contactless payment on Tudor Square.

Will there be toilets?

Yes the toilets will be available but ideally please use them before or after the session rather than moving in and out of the arena while play is in progress. There will also be toilets available on Tudor Square.

Will I be temperature checked?
No. But if you or any of your party have any Covid-19 symptoms please do not travel to the event

More information on ticket purchasing and the fans Code of Conduct is available here.

Above all, please stay safe and follow these guidelines but ENJOY the event – it is one of the world’s great sporting events and you will be among the few watching it live under unique circumstances.

Not everyone though is convinced that it’s safe. Anthony Hamilton isn’t, that’s a certainty:

Screenshot 2020-07-29 at 12.13.50.png


And Marcel Eckardt will be in charge of the Final 

Marcel Eckardt will become the youngest referee to take charge of the Crucible final at this year’s Betfred World Championship.

The 30-year-old from Gera in Germany will officiate the final in Sheffield on August 15 and 16. Paul Collier currently holds the record as the youngest to referee the final; he was 33 in 2004.

Eckardt first worked on the World Snooker Tour in 2010 and refereed his first final at the German Masters in 2015. In 2018 he took charge of his first Triple Crown final at the UK Championship. He made his Crucible debut in 2015 and last year he officiated one of the semi-finals for the first time.

“It’s will be a massive moment for me, it is the match you want to do as a professional referee. I can’t wait for it,” said Eckardt. “To be the youngest to take charge of the final is great because I have worked very hard to get this far. It will be very special. The semi-final last year was incredible and that has given me the right experience.”