So… yesterday was the last day of snooker in 2020. I will cover Judd Trump’s World Grand Prix win in the next post. Meanwhile here are some news about SPOTY and what is coming next year. By the looks of it, we are not out of the woods any time soon unfortunately.
Ronnie O’Sullivan missed out on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award as Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was voted the winner.
Six-time World Champion O’Sullivan was the first snooker player to be shortlisted for the prestigious award since Stephen Hendry in 1990.
Earlier this year, O’Sullivan conquered the Crucible for the first time since 2013. In all he has won a record 37 ranking titles and 20 Triple Crown events, while helping snooker’s popularity to grow around the world with his charisma and flamboyant style of play.
He was on the shortlist alongside Hamilton, Hollie Doyle, Jordan Henderson, Stuart Broad and Tyson Fury.
Jordan Henderson (football) and Hollie Doyle (horse racing) came second and third. Is it a coincidence that those are all big-money sports?
Apparently there was some kind of silver-lining to this cloud: snooker got about ten minutes “antenna time” instead of its usual 30 seconds. Ah well, all good then.
Barry Hearn concedes next month’s snooker Masters will be behind closed doors at Alexandra Palace after London was placed in tier four of coronavirus restrictions amid mounting cases in the capital
Barry Hearn has conceded the new ‘Tier Four’ restrictions will force snooker to play next month’s Masters behind closed doors.
The game has been confirmed by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden as one of the elite sports that can continue to stage tournaments without a crowd.
But though London’s status could change before the prestigious invitation tournament decisions must be made today regarding organisation of the event.
Until last week tickets were being sold with a capacity of 1,000 per session at Alexandra Palace but those fans now look set to be disappointed.
And an angry Hearn says the late decisions and continually changing landscape are ‘a mess’ having already been ‘burned’ at snooker’s World Championship in August and the PDC darts this month.
He said: ‘It is a mess. If you had asked me about the Masters two days ago I would have said, “All systems go”. Suddenly now, realistically, we have a problem.
‘It is because of all the things we have to organise.
‘It is like this whole thing is taking great pleasure in kicking me in the nuts. Every time I spend a load of money, there is no payback.
‘We had the snooker at the Crucible, half a day before they changed their minds on crowds. The darts, all of a sudden after one day with live crowds – gone.
‘These things cost a lot of money just to get the venues ready for the admission of people.
‘We have a final meeting on Monday but this is not a two-minute thing and my recommendation will be to stage the Masters behind closed doors.
‘Even if we come out of whatever tier we are in now – which they are making up as they go along – I can’t see them welcoming crowds back to sport until early January at least.
‘But I have to make decisions on Monday about things like tiered seating at Ally Pally, structure, entrance of fans, Covid rules for them…it is actually more efficient to do it behind closed doors.
‘I can’t leave those decisions until early January, I have to make them now as it’s a three-week order and build.
‘We as an organisation have been burned twice already at the Crucible and now the darts World Championships.
‘We don’t get any payment from the government, even as a pilot scheme – I’m not moaning about that, just stating a fact.
‘If it’s going to be a choice between a maybe and a definite, I’m better off opting for the safe option so I’m pretty sure there won’t be crowds.
‘We had sold a number of tickets, and this thing runs into a lot of money overall. We lost £2.5million at the Crucible, maybe £4m at the darts, and the Masters £750,000.
‘The only overriding thing that is good still is that although we come behind that great sport of break-dancing in the Olympics, we are recognised as an elite sport here.
‘That has just been confirmed by Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State, and we can continue to put on professional tournaments behind closed doors.
‘How quickly we return to any kind of normality with the crowds I don’t know, but I am thinking the Crucible for the World Championships next April.’
Barry isn’t happy and he’s absolutely right. The UK government constantly changes the goalposts and it costs a lot of money the entrepreneurs, and the UK economy in general. In times of crisis, clear and consistent policies and information are of essence. The mixed messages fuel distrust and misunderstanding in the general public, not mentioning conspiracy theories. How can people abide by rules that are constantly changing?
I have put the last sentence in bold. That’s the prospect for now. Hopefully the spring, and the vaccines, will bring the infection rates down.
BETVICTOR CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE SNOOKER RETURNS IN 2021
BetVictor Championship League Snooker will return in January 2021 in its original invitational format at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes as 25 of the world’s best players battle over seven groups for the right to compete in April’s big-money Winners’ Group.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker, promoted by Matchroom Multi Sport, will begin with Group 1 on January 4-5, with Group 2 (Jan 6-7) and Group 3 (Jan 8-9) to follow the same week.
Groups 4-6 will be played over the week of February 8-13 and BetVictor Championship League Snooker will return with Group 7 from March 29-30. The seven Group Champions will then return for Winners’ Group from March 31-April 1.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker will be shown live on betting websites around the world, as well as on global OTT platforms and Matchroom.Live. Winners’ Group will additionally be broadcast on TV networks, with full details to be confirmed in the new year.
Emily Frazer, Managing Director of Matchroom Multi Sport, said: “We are excited to open 2021 with the return of BetVictor Championship League Snooker’s invitational event.
“The unique format has always been a hit with the players, who are competing for a share of the £205,000 prize fund and a place in the Champion of Champions.
“With the introduction of live streaming at Matchroom.Live throughout, and TV broadcasters for Winners’ Group, this year we’ll be making sure BetVictor Championship League Snooker is available for all snooker fans to watch and enjoy.
“We’re pleased to be working alongside BetVictor once again and we’re working hard to ensure fans will see increased production and staging levels compared to previous invitational Championship League events.
“Championship League has evolved dramatically over 2020 with many event formats pioneering the return of professional sport after the Covid-19 shutdown. We are keen to consistently push the CLS brand with both this Invitational Event and we hope that the Ranking Event edition will return later in 2021, offering all 128 WST Tour card holders the chance to participate.”
The BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Multi Sport and Perform which began in 2008, where 25 of the game’s elite players compete with matches being broadcasted on the biggest sports streaming platforms.
Each group features seven players and is played across two days with two tables in operation. All matches are a best-of-five and each group is played to a round-robin format. The top four in each group contest the play-offs, with the eventual winner advancing to Winners’ Group. The three play-off players who don’t advance will move into the next group, where they are joined by the player who finished fifth in the table and three new players. Those finishing sixth and seventh in each group are eliminated from the competition.
A total of up to £205,000 prize money is available with players earning £100 per frame won, with significant bonuses for their final group position and increased prize money in the Winners’ Group. In its 12-year history, the BetVictor Championship League Snooker has paid out over £2,000,000 in prize money.