Several important news popped up in recent weeks.
Hong Kong Sports Institute delivers snooker ‘a huge blow’ as it cuts Tier A status and millions in funding and support
Ng On-yee, seen here at the Eden Women’s Masters in Brighton, has blazed a trail for the sport in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout
The high-profile sport of billiards will be demoted to Tier B by the Hong Kong Sports Institute from April 2023, costing them not just millions of dollars in funding but also their occupancy at HKSI.
Sources have told the Post billiards is facing the chop because it did not meet the required funding criteria as an Asian Games sport.
“It is disappointing because we can’t work out why they’re doing this a year after it was announced that billiards will return to Doha Asian Games in 2030,” the source said.
Texting Carrie Lam: how Marco Fu raised snooker’s multimillion-dollar question with Hong Kong leader
- Quarantined ace opts for a direct approach to grab the attention of the city’s chief executive, who acknowledges Fu’s message in Facebook post
- Cue sports could lose 80 per cent of their funding from 2023, with grants to players halved, governing body saysCarrie Lam posted a photo of herself with Marco Fu on Facebook as she discussed sports funding. Photo: FacebookNot many people can claim to have a head of government’s digits in their phone contacts, but Marco Fu Ka-chun is one.Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said she was alerted to a financial crisis for snooker when she received a text message about it from the city’s most famous player.Cue sports face losing most of their public funding from next year, slashing support to players including three-time ranking event winner Fu and three-time women’s world champion Ng On-yee – a point made to Hong Kong’s leader when Fu contacted her personally.“I received a text message from Marco Fu,” Lam said in a Facebook post that discussed funding of Hong Kong sports.
From another Hong Kong source, I understand that snooker is relatively safe for another four years, but solving such issues may take time. It also shows why, although IMO, cue sports are not particularly suitable for the Olympic games ans similar competitions, having them in those events is important, and not just in Hong Kong. In Belgium, snooker is not considered to be a sport, but would be if it was included in the Olympics. This would have huge implications regarding funding, but also regarding the support athletes can get, in particular, the younger ones who are still under “mandatory education” status and often find it difficult to fulfill their school duties AND their sports’ training.
Yesterday Steve Dawson made a number of announcements:
Steve Dawson Announcements
WST Chairman Steve Dawson was at the Crucible today making a range of announcements about the tour. These were:
Cazoo UK Championship
We’re delighted to announce a very significant format change for the Cazoo UK Championship which will have huge benefits for the players, fans and broadcasters.
The event will exactly mirror the format for the Betfred World Championship. So the top 16 players will be seeded through to the final stages in York. All other players will compete in a qualifying event with 16 going through to the venue.
The strength of the top 16 has never been greater and we are seeing this in our biggest events such as the World Championship and the Masters. For television viewers, this format guarantees the biggest names at the final stages.
There will be 128 players in the qualifying rounds – 112 tour players and 16 invited amateurs. This will create its own drama and storylines, just as we see at the World Championship.
We have a mixture of formats on the tour, with some flat draws of 128 players, and others where the top players are seeded through.
We have also increased the prize money from £1,009,000 to £1,205,000, with the first prize up from £200,000 to £250,000.
The event will remain at the York Barbican, its home since 2011, with the televised stages running from November 12 to 20. This will be immediately preceded by the qualifying event.
Matches will remain best of 11 frames up until the final.
The Cazoo UK Championship is a fabulous event, one of our Triple Crown, and this innovation will help it to grow and evolve into a bigger and better tournament.
Invitational Tour Cards
We have decided to offer Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry invitational tour cards for the next two seasons. They are both great ambassadors for our sport and they have both done a huge amount to grow snooker around the world over many years.
Both Ken and Stephen continue to generate interest from fans, television and media. We wish them all the best for the next two seasons. We will review this invitation at the end of the two-year period.
Star Xing Pai
In a hugely momentous new agreement for our sport, we have signed a ten-year extension to our current deal with Star Xing Pai to be our official table supplier.
There is no question that Star make the best snooker tables in the world, and they are an integral part of our ambition to provide the best possible playing conditions. The quality of play, the number of centuries and 147s and the positive feedback we have from players is testament to the excellence of Star Xing Pai products.
Star has been our official supplier since 2007 so we have worked them for 15 years and we had no hesitation in joining forces for another ten years. This has been one of our sport’s most successful long terms partnerships of recent times. As well as providing official tables, Star has promoted events in China, and worked with the WPBSA in producing ‘Little Star’ small tables to help more school children to play our sport.
We look forward to building this relationship for many years to come.
Finally, an important announcement for our fantastic charity partner Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home as we have agreed to continue to support them for another three years. The financial support we provide includes donations for century breaks from our sponsors, including an incredibly generous donation from Betfred year upon year, of £200 for every century which is always rounded up to £25,000. The work done by the Jessie May Nurses for terminally ill children and their families is extraordinary. They rely very much on private donations and we are pleased to help for a further three years.
I have mixed feelings about the UK Championship change of format.
On one hand it gives lower ranked players more winnable first matches, and an better opportunity to earn some good money and ranking points whilst gaining experience. On the other hand, this is another event where they won’t be at the main venue nor mix with the biggest stars and experience the biggest venues’ atmosphere.
It’s not “protecting” the top players, who will come cold in the last 32, and won’t get any ranking points shoud they lose.
The change is obviously driven by a number of commercial factors; the broadcasters – in this case the BBC – and the venues’ managements and the sponsors want to have the big names at the latter stage. Also, less players at the main venue makes it easier to organise hospitality.
I also have mixed feelings about the invitational tour cards, Hendry’s one in particular. Of course he’s one of the greatest players in our sport, but he has got one already and barely used it.