Snooker News – 19 January 2023

This is a kind of “low key” post as I must confess that what was revealed yesterday regarding the match fixing enquiry has been affecting me.

In relation to that, WST has announced changes in the draw of upcoming events. Nothing unexpected here of course.

Updated German And Shoot Out Draws

The draws for the BetVictor Shoot Out and BetVictor German Masters have been updated.

Zhao Xintong has been withdrawn from the BetVictor German Masters in Berlin, and his opponent Tom Ford will receive a bye into the next round.

Click here for the updated draw
Click here for the updated format

Zhao Xintong and Zhang Jiankang have been withdrawn from the BetVictor Shoot Out, and replaced with a straight swap in the draw with the next available players on the Q School 2022 Order of Merit. Zhao Xintong is replaced by Haydon Pinhey and Zhang Jiankang is replaced by Michael Georgiou.

Click here for the updated draw

There was actually one good news coming out today

Jessie May Donation Boosted To £15,000

WST has decided to increase its donation to official charity Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home to £15,000, based on the number of century breaks made at the Cazoo Masters.

Before the tournament at Alexandra Palace started, WST pledged £500 for every century up to a maximum of £10,000. But the final century tally was 30 and WST will now donate the full total based on £500 per century, which is £15,000.

Bristol-based charity Jessie May provides nursing care at home for children and young people with life limiting conditions who are not expected to live beyond the age of 19.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “After such a fantastic Cazoo Masters tournament and a barrage of centuries, we have decided to boost the donation to Jessie May up to £15,000. We know what amazing work they do for vulnerable children and their families. The pandemic has really affected their funding and we urge everyone to have a look at what they do and dig deep to support them because private donations are vital to their future.”

Kim James-Coggins from Jessie May said: “All of the team at Jessie May are truly grateful for the support from WST. The impact your support has on our nurses and families is incredible.”

To find out more about Jessie May, visit jessiemay.org.uk

I’m glad that WST took that decision considering that many families, especially the most “vulnerable” ones, continue to suffer from the combined effects of the pandemic and the Brexit induced economic crisis in the UK. There is nothing worse for a parent than to lose a child, or to raise a child knowing that their life expectancy is limited and every day is a struggle. Well done WST, well done the players who scored as many as they could.

As for the match fixing issue, I can only urge everyone to wait for the results of the hearing and the full facts before asking for “life bans” … What annoys me is that some of those taking the harsh stand are the same who regularly pleaded leniency for Stephen Lee, asking for him to be allowed back “because he has such a Rolls-Royce cue action”. There should be consistency, no matter the nationality of the players.

IF it is proven that some of the older players in that group lured/coerced their young compatriots into a match fixing scheme, yes, they should get a life ban and should be sent back to China with no possibility to return to the UK or anywhere in Europe. Not just because of the match fixing, but more importantly because the vile betrayal of confidence. I’m sure that many parents of Chinese teenagers sent to the UK to play professionally were glad to know that their kids weren’t alone and that older, more experienced fellow citizens would be there for them. It’s only normal. It would be the same for UK parents if their teenagers were sent to live as ex-pats in Asia. That betrayal, above all, IF true, is unforgivable.

Snooker will survive. Cycling survived the countless doping scandals. The Tour the France is still watched by millions. Formula One survived despite the terrible decisions that deprived Lewis Hamilton. A couple of heads fell and the circus goes on. Snooker is much cleaner than most sports, especially those that attract the BIG money.

Snooker News – 29 December 2022

Snooker will be back right after the New Year celebrations and the first big event will be the 2023 Masters. WST has confirmed what we all expected.

David Gilbert will replace Yan Bingtao in the draw.

Gilbert Joins Cazoo Masters Field

David Gilbert has been awarded a place in the 2023 Cazoo Masters and will face Mark Williams in the opening round at Alexandra Palace in London on Tuesday January 10th at 7pm.

Click here for the updated draw

Gilbert directly replaces Yan Bingtao, who was suspended by WPBSA on December 12th. Yan’s 14-day window to appeal the suspension has now passed. Gilbert was 17th in the world rankings at the cut-off point for the Cazoo Masters so he is the next player in line.

Tamworth’s Gilbert reached the semi-finals on each of his previous appearances at the Masters, in 2020 and 2021.

WPBSA/WST have also published the draw for the Q-Tour Event 6

Q Tour Event Six Draw

Tournament information including the draw and format for the sixth and final event of the WPBSA Q Tour is now available to view via WPBSA SnookerScores.

The event will take place at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds and will run from 6-8 January 2023.

Q Tour is one of the premier pathways to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won across the season. Sean O’Sullivan and Julien Leclercq both earned main tour cards via the Q Tour last season.

This season’s first five events were won by Ross Muir, Martin O’Donnell, Farakh Ajaib, Billy Castle and Daniel Wells.

Unsurprisingly all the winners so far are British, all are male and all are former pros.

In fact all players in the top 16 Q-Tour rankings are British, only four have never been pros and only one of those is teenagers. The highest ranked “non-UK” players are Florian Nuessle (Austria), Gao Yang (China) and Brian Ochoiski (France) and they are 19th, 20th, and 21st in the Q-Tour rankings.

And, the final piece of news I’ m sharing in this post is a sad one and was shared by WST on Christmas’ Eve : Frank Adamson passed away.

Frank Adamson Passes Away

Frank Adamson, a renowned coach who worked with players including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Lee and Jack Lisowski, has passed away at the age of 93.

Adamson, from Bristol, was well known in snooker circles as one of the sport’s best coaches. He helped countless young players to improve their technique.

O’Sullivan said: “Frank was a great student of the game, and knew his stuff. If it wasn’t for Frank, I don’t think I would have won one world title. So Frank helping me out enabled me to win seven. We worked so hard for a year. It was amazing. It was probably the best and the hardest time of my snooker career. I knew I had to sort my game out, and I knew he was the person to do it. So big love and respect to Frank, and his wife Loretta. Amazing family. Amazing couple. Love him to pieces. I loved his cheese and ham sandwiches. Just a great guy. Sorely missed.”

Daniel Wells, who was coached by Adamson, said: “Frank was an incredible coach and he had the ability to work with players of all standards, from beginners to World Champions. He dedicated most of his life to snooker and helped so many players. He was also a lovely guy and he will be missed by everyone who knew him.”

Coach Nic Barrow added: “Frank was instrumental in helping me understand the game as a player. He later spent many years helping me find my own coaching style and methods. He always viewed himself as a student of the game first and foremost which is why I trusted him so deeply. I told him on more than one occasion, that if I had to have another Dad, I would want Frank to be my Dad.”

WST and WPBSA send our condolences to all of Frank’s family and friends.

There were plenty more heartfelt tributes on social media, including by Paul Mount who in the days set-up the wonderful South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester and was manager to many great players, as well as from Andrew Norman who worked closely with Paul.

Snooker News – 06.12.2022 mixed bag

This one is really a mixed bag …

Let’s start with the “neutral” bit.

WST has published the draw and format for the 2023 German Masters at the Tempodrom

BetVictor German Masters Final Stages Draw

Defending champion Zhao Xintong faces Tom Ford in the opening session of the BetVictor German Masters at the magnificent Tempodrom venue in Berlin in February.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Zhao beat Yan Bingtao 9-0 in the final last year and he’ll be back at the Tempodrom to defend his crown, starting against Ford at 3pm local time on Wednesday February 1st.  On the same day in the evening session, BetVictor European Masters champion Kyren Wilson is up against Sam Craigie, while legend Jimmy White takes on Peng Yisong.

Standout matches on Thursday February 2nd include Neil Robertson against Joe Perry, and Luca Brecel facing Matthew Stevens. The final takes place on Sunday February 5th.

The tournament will be screened by Eurosport, discovery+ and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

This event could well be a big opportunity for one of the mid-ranked players as there is no “Class of 92” in the draw, no Mark Selby, no Judd Trump, no Mark Allen , no Shaun Murphy… But it could also be a real nightmare for the promoters that so many big names miss out. The Tempodrom is an extraordinary venue, but not a cheap one. We could lose this one if it becomes financially un-sustainable. Time for a “tiered” format? I would say yes.

WST attempted to move the cut-off point for the 2023 Players Championship and faced a social media riot

This was the initial announcement:

Players Championship Cut Off Point

Thursday 1 Dec 2022 08:50AM

The seeding cut off point for the 2023 Players Championship, which runs from February 20 to 26, will come after the 2023 BetVictor German Masters.

Our calendar previously stated that the cut off point would fall at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19. However we have now moved the cut off point back to end of the BetVictor German Masters which finishes on February 5. This means that the draw and format for the Players Championship can be announced well in advance.

Only the top 16 players on the one-year ranking list, as it stands at the end of the BetVictor German Masters, will qualify for the Players Championship, which returns to Aldersley Village in Wolverhampton, where Neil Robertson won the title last season. 

And the “reversal” of the decision on the next day…

Updated Players Championship Cut Off Point

Friday 2 Dec 2022 03:29PM

Following the announced change to the seeding cut off for the 2023 Players Championship, the decision has today been taken to revert to the original seeding cut off point of after the 2023 BetVictor Welsh Open.

The announced change was made for good reasons to assist scheduling and planning for players; however, it is recognised that it is mid-season, and this decision should be considered at the end of the season and in advance of a full calendar.

The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19, will qualify for the Players Championship which runs from February 20 to 26.

It’s not often that you see all the players agreeing on a topic and actively opposing one of WST decisions, but it did happen this time. Indeed the initial decision to “move the goalpost” for the Players Championship qualification, by excluding the 2023 Welsh Open from the list of qualifying events proved to be extremely unpopular. As Mark Williams wrote on social media, players plan their season and enter events, or don’t, based on their goals, the season calendar and the prize money schedule. Changing the “rules” mid-season is not on.

The 2022 English Open will be played in Brentwood , Essex next week. This, for Ronnie, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham and Mark King will really be a “home” event.

It’s the last qualifying event for the 2023 World Grand Prix and WST has been looking at the implications of this for various players.

Race To Cheltenham Concludes In Brentwood

Gary Wilson has leapt to fifth place on the one-year ranking list with just one counting event to go before the field is confirmed for the World Grand Prix.

Wilson won the first ranking title of his career by beating Joe O’Connor 9-2 in the final of the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh on Sunday. The £80,000 top prize boosted him up 47 places from 52nd.

At the end of next week’s BetVictor English Open, the top 32 players on the one-year list will qualify for the World Grand Prix, to be staged in Cheltenham from January 16 to 22.

O’Connor earned £35,000 for reaching his first ranking final, so he’s up from 69th to 13th and is now sure of a place in Cheltenham. Neil Robertson reached the semi-finals and leaps from 43rd to 24th, while Thepchaiya Un-Nooh also made the last four and he’s up from 59th to 31st with a total tally of £30,500. Robertson is £4,500 ahead of Un-Nooh, with Mark Selby a further £1,000 inside the safe zone. Ronnie O’Sullivan is in 17th spot with £37,500.

Jamie Clarke and Jordan Brown are tied in 32nd spot, but both failed to qualify for the BetVictor English Open in Brentwood so in fact they are out of the running.

Big names currently outside the top 32 and in need of a deep run in Brentwood are Yan Bingtao (42nd with £21,500), Zhao Xintong (44th with £21,500) and John Higgins (74th with £12,000). Four-time World Champion Higgins will have to reach the final in Brentwood to get into the top 32.

BetVictor English Open prize money:

Winner: £80,000
Runner-up: £35,000
Semi-finals: £17,500
Quarter-finals: £11,000
Last 16: £7,500
Last 32: £4,500
Last 64: £3,000
High break: £5,000
Total: £427,000

The same one-year list will be used to determine the field for the other two events in the Players Series. The top 16 at the the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open in February will qualify for the Players Championship  at Aldersley Village, Wolverhampton (February 20 to 26) and only the top eight will go on to the Tour Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull (March 27 to April 2).

On the official two-year list, Wilson climbs from 32nd to 18th, while O’Connor jumps from 55th to 40th. Ronnie O’Sullivan remains the official world number one, with a lead of £211,000 over Judd Trump.

Wilson is up to second place in the BetVictor Series Rankings, just £7,000 behind leader Kyren Wilson. Mark Allen is third, just £1,000 behind Gary Wilson. There are four events to go in that race, with the money list leader after February’s BetVictor Welsh Open to bank the massive £150,000 bonus.

Ahead of the event, Ivan Hirschowitz, WST press officer, has been speaking on “Phoenix FM” , the local radio station.

You can read and listen here:

World Snooker Comes to Brentwood – Ivan Hirschowitz

Written by Bob Simpson in One 2 Three👁 843

Monday 5 December 2022, 3.59pm

Snooker’s top stars will be heading to the Brentwood Centre for the first time next week and tickets are on sale now.
The Essex venue will host the BetVictor English Open, a world ranking event and part of the Home Nations Series, from December 12 to 18.
Over 70 players including the top 16 seeds will be on the green baize at the Brentwood Centre. Winners in recent years and include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, and current champion Neil Robertson.
Today the Head of Media for the World Snooker Tour – Ivan Hirschowitz, joined me in the studio to tell us all about it.

You can listen to our chat here

Phoenix FM was created by Paul Golder who, with Django Fung, started “The Grove”, a snooker club and a management team. They currently manage Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui, Ali Carter and Michael Holt. Their first player though, about 15 years ago, was Ronnie, who remains on friendly terms with both of them.

And finally a personal concern that may or may not be justified

This season, a number of snooker players, top players, have embraced pool as an alternative: Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Mark Allen to name a few. Judd Trump played in a major Pool event last season too. Nothing wrong with that as the early season has been very start/stop with long gaps for them to fill.

However, at the same time, I also sense a change of priorities at Matchroom. Emily Frazer, Matchroom’s Managing Director is a very dynamic and proactive person. I’ve met Emily a few times at the Premier League Snooker years ago (2007-2011) and I can only admire her. She does a sterling job. Her priority however is pool, not snooker. This is very obvious to anyone following her twitter account. She clearly has Barry Hearn’s support. Eddie Hearn is only interested in boxing… If Matchroom priorities, and with it, their investments, shift mainly to pool, it could be very bad news for WST and snooker because, actually, Matchroom owns 51% of the WST shares. Barry Hearn “bought” snooker in 2010. At the time he literally saved it of course, but …

Thoughts?

The 900 week 6 and other news – 27.10.2022

The 900 – week 6

Week 6 at the 900 concluded yesterday and it provided great entertainment again.

On Monday… Ant Parsons emerged the winner, beating the legend that is Les Dodd in the final. Here is how it unfolded:

It was however Tam Mustafa who stole the show… playing with incredible flair.

On Tuesday, it was Lenny Baker who prevailed.

George Pragnell, who currently dominates the Q-Tour was the favourite. He was beaten in his first match though. Of course, over just one frame, about anything can happen. Tam Mustafa delighted the fans all evening but Lenny Baker eventually had too much for him.

On Wednesday …

The winners of the previous days met in the final, with Ant Parsons emerging the winner

The 900 proves to be a very interesting, diverse and highly appreciated event. this is what Matt Andrews, a mental coach who helped Ronnie in the past, and David Church, a WDBS player, had to say:

Here are some more images shared by Jason this week:

Jason now “plots” a “Junior 900” and a “Legends 900”. Bring it on!

News from the Barbican …

Mark Williams’ reaction to this tweet was immediately calling for a return of the “best of 17” format. I agree with him and I would like to see a return of the tiered format in the majority, if not all, events.

Some players, notably Barry Pinches, brand it unfair. I don’t think it is, especially if players losing their first match, no matter the round, get no ranking/rating points. That removes the “protection” that was, maybe, a problem in the past. What Barry seems to overlook is that the majority of the current top 16, grew through the tiered system and started at the very bottom, and that includes someone as young as Judd Trump. They weren’t privileged or protected, they were better than the rest and that’s why they are there. Barry, and many others in his generation, had exactly the same opportunities.

What I do see is that the vast majority of the current top 16 who have grown and developed through the tiered system, have been there for many years, despited the alleged “protection” being removed long ago. What those players have, that the younger ones seem to struggle with is consistency and consistency comes from a solid foundation. The current system doesn’t offer a good path for development. It’s too brutal. It’s mentally bruising. Playing more matches, and more winnable matches is what builds a good foundation and grows confidence. It’s naïve to believe that players who qualify for the main tour are “ready” or should be “ready” from day one. Experience matters in all walks of life and in every profession or job.

Some “better” news about the status of snooker in Hong Kong

This was published in the South China Morning Post today

Snooker gets stay of execution from funding cuts with Hong Kong government set to delay sports review

Three ‘Tier A’ sports facing demotion from elite status in April will get one more year if review is extendedElite Sports Committee will discuss the subject at its meeting next month, source tells the Post

by Chan Kin-wa

The recent Hong Kong Masters helped snooker’s cause as it fights to retain top-tier funding, the local governing body said. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Three sports facing funding cuts in April are set to be given a stay of execution for one more year, with the government planning to push back a planned review following the postponement of the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Cue sports, gymnastics and tennis were all set to be demoted to “Tier B” programmes at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in the new financial year, having not met the required results to continue in the elite Tier A bracket.

But it is believed the government is now likely to start its review after the Hangzhou Games, which China pushed back to 2023 amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, meaning the three sports will all get an additional year to stay in the programme.

The government’s Elite Sports Committee will discuss the matter next month and it is likely they will push back the review for another year,” said a source.

Asian Games results are a benchmark for all of these elite sports to measure their success, and with the Hangzhou Games now being postponed to 2023, it is logical that the government will also extend the review period.

Commissioner for Sports Yeung Tak-keung did not respond when asked to comment on a possible postponement of the review.

Cue sports have been an elite programme at the Institute for more than a decade, as they met the prerequisite of taking part in three Asian Games since 1997, as well as achieving other results-based benchmarks.

However the government’s Sports Commission changed the prerequisite requirements in April, and as a result, cue sports were set to lose their status next year in the latest review.

Their future hinges on whether they can gain readmission to the Asian Games in 2026. After last featuring in 2010, they will return in 2030 in Doha, but are not included, as yet, in the 2026 edition in Nagoya, Japan.

The rules state that, to avoid demotion to Tier B next April, a sport must have featured in, or expect to feature in, at least three Asian or Olympic Games between 2010 and 2030.

Billiards and snooker were part of the Asian Games four times in a row from 1998 to 2010, with Marco Fu leading Hong Kong’s haul of four gold, three silver and three bronze medals.

If the review is being postponed for one year, we can stay as a Tier A programme at least until March 2024,” said Vincent Law, chairman of the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council. “Of course this is something good to hear, but we will not just stay there and do nothing.

We want to lobby the 2026 Nagoya Asian Games organisers to include snooker into the medal programme so that we can satisfy the prerequisite. However, this is not going to be easy as it requires a joint effort from other Asian countries to support the move.

The rules state that, to avoid demotion to Tier B next April, a sport must have featured in, or expect to feature in, at least three Asian or Olympic Games between 2010 and 2030.

Billiards and snooker were part of the Asian Games four times in a row from 1998 to 2010, with Marco Fu leading Hong Kong’s haul of four gold, three silver and three bronze medals.

At the same time we will try to prove to the government that snooker, as a sport, can make a great impact on the community. The recent Hong Kong Masters has been a great success, not only for the sport itself but also in creating a strong awareness in the community and promoting the name of Hong Kong through international media.

The government’s three main strategies for sports development are to promote sports in the community, to support elite sports, and to develop Hong Kong into a prime destination for major international sports events – and this is exactly what we have illustrated through the Masters.

Exactly as I expected, the fantastic success of the Hong Kong Masters might prove to become an important factor to help snooker keeping its Elite Sport current status. Vincent Law can now make a much stronger case for the sport we love than a few months ago.

Farewell to a Queen

Queen Elisabeth II died peacefully in her Balmoral residence yesterday afternoon. She was 96 tears old. She was a queen before I was born … and I’m a grand mother. Immediately, all over the Internet, respects were paid, tributes were written, and pictures were shared. Most of those images showed her, smiling, wearing her crown with pride… the only one that was in my mind, was of her, petite, frail, all dressed in black, wearing a mask, alone, mourning her husband, the man she had loved since she was 13. Alone, following the rules while those who set those rules were partying in Downing street. Those were the same people who were now flooding social media with tributes. It angered me beyond words. It saddened me beyond words.

Of course, there were also many thousand of sincere tributes, notably from snooker players, including Ronnie.

Tributes and token of respect came from all over the world. The flags were taken at half mast in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. European countries expressed their solidarity with the UK people and shared their sorrow.

Rest in peace Elisabeth Windsor, Queen, mother, grand-mother, grand-grand-mother … a formidable woman in a male dominated world, a unifying force in a profoundly divided country, a beacon of dignity in the face of a deeply corrupted political class. I hope you are now reunited with your love.

Tour News – Guaranteed Prize Money For All Players

Yesterday WPBSA and WST made a very important announcement: this season players will be guaranteed £20000 in prize money.

Here are the announcements:

By WST

Tour Players Guaranteed Prize Money Under New WST And WPBSA Initiative

Players on the World Snooker Tour will be guaranteed to earn a minimum of £20,000 during the 2022/23 season, under a new system which offers them security in a difficult economic climate.

The initiative will be introduced with immediate effect, with players to be offered payments of up to £10,000 in September, and a further £10,000 in January.

These payments are set against prize money, so players otherwise earning £20,000 or more over the season will have the up-front payments deducted from their prize money earnings. The system will particularly benefit those who would otherwise earn less than £20,000 in prize money.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are delighted to join forces with the WPBSA and its players organisation to fund this new programme. We recognise that these are tough times for many people given the cost of living crisis and that a £20,000 guarantee provides an important level of reassurance for many players who need to plan and prepare for life on tour.

“The top stars on our tour earn vast sums, in fact three years ago we saw Judd Trump become the first player to earn £1 million in prize money in a single season. But we recognise that further down the rankings, there are no guarantees. We have brought in this new system to support the many talented players who may need a level of security to fund their snooker careers.

“Before Matchroom took control of the sport in 2010, overall prize money had sunk as low as £3.5 million and all players had to pay around £5,000 a year in entry fees. We have since scrapped entry fees and the prize money levels are far higher. Due to the pandemic, we have not been able to stage ranking events in China since 2019, which has adversely affected our tour. But we will return to China as soon as restrictions are reduced, and we are striving to create new events, as we have done with the British Open, Turkish Masters, Hong Kong Masters and World Mixed Doubles.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson added: “This new initiative is a fundamental shift in the way we are underpinning the future of our sport. This clearly shows the importance of our new structure at the WPBSA where players are represented and listened to through their own WPBSA players body, and I would like to thank the WPBSA players board for their support. In addition, this demonstrates the value of becoming a World Snooker Tour card holder where we take talent retention and the welfare of our players seriously.”

The new system, open to all 130 tour players, will run this season on a trial basis before the decision is made whether to continue next season.

And by WPBSA

Ferguson Hails New Prize Money Guarantee Scheme for World Snooker Tour

World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) Chairman Jason Ferguson has welcomed the introduction of a new prize money guarantee scheme that will see players on the World Snooker Tour (WST) guaranteed to earn a minimum of £20,000 for the first time during the 2022/23 season.

Jointly announced by WST and snooker’s world governing body the WPBSA, and supported by the WPBSA’s own players board, the new initiative will provide unprecedented support for all professional players. In particular, the scheme will provide stability for players to compete throughout the year.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are today delighted to be able to announce this new scheme which will underpin the future of our sport going forwards.

There can be no question that the World Snooker Tour represents the pinnacle of our sport and that every player who has qualified through our recognised WPBSA pathways is deserving of the opportunity to compete at the very highest level.

However, we are currently living through challenging times, with the global cost of living crisis combined with the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic upon the international calendar, undoubtedly having a destabilising effect upon players.

We further recognise that talent can come from anywhere around the globe, there are players from no fewer than 19 countries currently represented on the World Snooker Tour and I am sure this scheme will now make it possible for anyone to achieve their dreams and fulfil their potential. Player welfare is an issue that we take extremely seriously, and there is no doubt that this scheme will ease the pressure for many of our members, allowing them to do what they do best – play snooker and entertain the many millions of fans around the world.

This scheme demonstrates the value of earning a two-year WST Tour Card and has been made possible through the tripartite structure that exists within our sport. This includes our commercial arm WST, the WPBSA as world governing body and crucially our WPBSA Players organisation, which ensures that the views of the players are heard at all stages. This demonstrates that our new constitutional changes at the WPBSA are working. I would like to place on record my thanks to fellow Chairman at WST Steve Dawson, the WST Board of Directors, and the new Players Board currently chaired by Ken Doherty, all of whom have contributed to making this happen.

This is indeed a radical shift from Barry Hearn’s “philosophy”, allegedly about “not rewarding mediocrity”. It isn’t “rewarding mediocrity” to pay people for their job done. It isn’t “rewarding mediocrity” to recognise that new players on tour need time to adjust: this is a very difficult sport and the top players play at a very high standard. It isn’t “rewarding mediocrity” to help players who need to “expat” – because of the UK centric nature of the tour – to relocate and settle in their new lives. All this applies, no matter the economical climate, but it is more important than ever in this time of deep crisis.

There is a small risk that a couple may abuse the system, take the money and do nothing, but it’s a small price to pay if this system allows many young talents to develop and thrive. This is about the future, and maybe even the survival, of snooker as a top sport. Well done WPBSA!