Challenge Tour Play-offs News

This was posted by WST yesterday

The eight-man Challenge Tour Play-Off event, with one place on the World Snooker Tour available for the winner, will take place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield on July 20th.

The event was originally scheduled for March 29th in Clacton-on-Sea but was then postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now take place in Sheffield, the day before the start of the Betfred World Championship qualifiers.

The Play-Off features the eight highest ranked players on this season’s Challenge Tour rankings, to have not yet earned professional status for next season. The winner will receive a two-year card for the World Snooker Tour.

The draw will be announced shortly.

Regulations on Covid-19 testing, sanitisation and social distancing at the Play-Off will follow the government guidelines at the time. There will be no access for spectators.

With Ka Wai Cheung not entering, the eight players in the draw should be: Dean Young, Adam Duffy, Oliver Brown, Alan Taylor, Patrick Whelan, Rory McLeod, Jake Nicholson and Tyler Rees.

When I pointed out that snooker clubs not being able to open for what should be their main business, snooker, means that many players will find it difficult to prepare properly, Matt Huart pointed out that WST players are still able to practice, provided that those guidelines are followed.

The guidance is aimed at “elite athletes” and elite atheletes are defined as:

For the purposes of this guidance the definition of an ‘elite athlete’ means a person who is:

• an individual who derives a living from competing in a sport

• a senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body

• a member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body, or

• aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway

I’m the one who put the last part in bold-italic

The 8 guys above are not pros. They are amateurs. Therefore they clearly don’t fit in any of first three categories. But could they be seen as being on an elite development pathway, because they are playing on the Challenge Tour, and because that tour is one of the path to actual professional status?

I think it’s an important question to answer, because, otherwise, those who don’t have a table at home, definitely won’t be able to prepare properly.

Then, of course, the same question applies to those amateurs inivited to the World Championship and those entering the Q-school? The Q-school is the main “road” to professional status.

And there is also that restriction about age in those guidelines. That restriction doesn’t exist anymore in snooker (*) , it is possible to turn professional before being 16, and there will probably under-16 amateurs at the Q-school. Then what?

(*) I don’t agree with having under-16 children turning pro. I don’t agree with the “If they are good enough, they are old enough” say. They might be technically good enough, it doesn’t mean that they have the maturity to cope with the obligations, and the pressure of professional sport. I think that there have been enough examples in the past of very promising players who never made it because, clearly, they weren’t mentally and emotionally ready and then were left with damaging scars. And not just in snooker BTW.

 

 

More – not great – news about the snooker planet

Yesterday brought more news about the state of snooker and it’s not great.

Regarding players withdrawals there was this:

ScreeGriffiiths HK - 30.06.2020

The man behind this tweet is Wayne Griffiths, son of Terry, and head coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute. This tweet means that neither On Yee Ng, nor Andy Lee will be at the World Qualifiers, Ka Wai Cheung will not have the chance to try to earn his tour card in the Challenge Tour, despite making the play-offs. Although nothing is said about the Q-school, I would be surprised if any player training at the HKSI was at the Q-School.

And, clearly, it’s NOT their choice.

Why am I writing the above? Because there was a discussion between Neil Robertson and Mark Allen, both of them “agreeing” that ultimately if players miss out, they do so by personal choice, so should take the consequences.

Neil argued that he would dearly love see his family in Australia, and is missing them, but chose to stay in the UK in order to be able to compete in the World Championship. Allen added that the Chinese players could have made the same choice but decided to go home instead. The Chinese players who returned made a personal choice, so they have to accept the consequences. It’s not the first time that Neil compares his situation, past and present to the one of the Chinese players. That comparison is not entirely valid. Yes, Neil came to the UK as a teenager, without money and away from his family. It was hard, very hard, no question. But at least he spoke the language, and came from a culture that isn’t that different from the UK one. Those two factors alone make a big difference. As for his present situation, indeed, he decided to stay in the UK, and won’t see his parents and siblings this summer, but, at least, his partner and children are with him in the UK. Most married Chinese players live separated from their close family for most of the season. One Chinese player, who married last year, was left worrying for weeks during the worst of the pandemics as his pregnant wife was stuck in China. Given the chance, he went back home when he had the opportunity and it wasn’t an easy trip. He’s now back in China, the father of a newborn baby. He won’t come back for the qualifiers, and he will lose his tour card, a card he had a very good chance to keep actually. Given the covid-19 situation in the UK, coming back for the qualifiers, might have meant being unable to go back again to China for a long time, and, to an extend, putting himself at risk. You can say that it was his choice, but what kind of choice was that really? What would Neil do if he was put in the same situation? Would he stay in the UK? I very much doubt it, and I would be disappointed with him as a person if he did.

I’m not suggesting that the World Championship should be canceled, not at this stage, and there are contracts and sponsors to consider; they are important for the future, but simply stating “it’s their choice, they have to live with the consequences” is over-simplifying a complex and difficult situation.

Then there was this statement by WPBSA

WPBSA / EPSB Statement: 30th June

Further to our previous statements in respect of the re-opening of snooker clubs in the UK we can today provide a further update following guidance received from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Following the announcements made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK government on 23 June with regards to the relaxation of lockdown measures from 4 July, we have been urgently seeking clarity from the DCMS and the Sport’s Minister’s office as to their application to snooker clubs.

We have today (30 June) received further guidance from DCMS as follows:

“Licensed premises will be able to open from 4 July in their capacity as bars and restaurants but not for indoor sport use. Any opening will need to follow the government’s guidance for pubs, bars and restaurants.”

We understand that this guidance will come as a disappointment to clubs that had planned to open as snooker clubs from 4th July and together with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Snooker we remain in dialogue with government to ensure that snooker facilities will be able to be used as soon as possible.

Well, that is exactly what I expected unfortunately, and it doesn’t make much sense to me either. So, people can gather around a table and get smashed, but can’t play a frame of snooker? I’m not sure I understand. It’s not as if snooker involves physical contact between players, or demands for huge physical efforts, getting players to breath deeply. According to an article I read recently about how the virus spreads, droplets from deep breathing are the biggest “vector” of propagation, and singing in a choir one of the most dangerous activities… Except for Dominic Dale maybe, snooker players are low risk beings in that respect, methinks.

Anyway, some players already decided to look at the positives, whatever the situation.

Alfie golf

 

 

 

 

Stephen and Ronnie about Willie Thorne, the CLS 2020, the World Championship under social distancing and more …

Stephen Hendry and Ronnie had another instagram chat yesterday evening, and it was again enjoyable although the first thing they talked about was, quite naturally, Willie Thorne’s passing away. Neither of them had played Willie at his best, but both knew him fairly well, and are saddened at his untimely death. Stephen of course works as a commentator and pundit for the BBC just like Willie did. Ronnie has done quite a number of exhibitions with the Snooker Legends, with Willie as a host, compère and commentator.

I met Willie quite often over the last five years, and he was always very friendly and quite funny. This is my personal tribute to Willie on my WWS blog.

The next subject they discussed was the CLS, won by Luca Brecel last week. They both enjoyed the final and were full of praise for both Luca and Ben. Ronnie enjoyed playing in the event, but struggled with being locked-up. Both Stephen and Ronnie enjoyed the format, but would have preferred to have it with only 32 players. Ronnie was again rather harsh on some lower ranked players, who, in his opinion, are not at the level they should be as professionals. They can pot, he said, and they can make 147s, but there is a whole aspect of the professional game that they don’t master. He’s right about that; anyone who watches both professional and amateur events will notice how differently the players approach their matches. Young players are often excellent potters, but have no answer when older, hard match players tie them in all kind of knots. The situation is even worse nowadays than it was when Ronnie was a rookie himself, as the amateur game has gone backwards, in the UK certainly, and young players really aren’t ready when they turn pro. So, Ronnie is right in his assessment, but at the same time, he’s harsh on those young pros, because it’s not their fault that they are less ready when turning pro than Ronnie’s generation was.

They then discussed the prospect of the World Championship being played in similar conditions and Ronnie reckoned that he would probably struggle. He seems determined to try is best but is not sure that he can handle those lockdown conditions for 17 days. Hendry, who used to keep himself to himself when competing, admitted that even he would probably struggle as well. Ronnie explained that he was tested twice. The first test went ok, but the second one left him with a minor injury, resulting in a very runny nose for almost two days, which was very uncomfortable.

Ronnie then answered fans’ questions.

Here is the chat:

The Rex Williams interview – part two

Here is part two of the Rex Williams interview

Rex Williams Interview: Part Two

  • 23rd April 2020
  • Williams to Ferguson

In part one of a recent interview with Rex Williams by our friends at World Billiards, he explained how he first got into billiards and snooker, and the great potential he showed at a very early age. Rex made his first billiards century after just three months, and his first 500 break after three years.

The interview continues by asking him more about his greatest moments in the professional game, how he mixed both billiards and snooker, and his advice for aspiring players.

What was your most memorable World Billiards Championship win?

“The first one would have to be the most memorable one, when I beat Clark McConachy in New Zealand in 1968. McConachy was an elderly man then but still a terrific player.

The heyday of billiards was before the war. The five greatest players in the game were Walter Lindrum, Joe Davis, Clark McConachy, Tom Newman and Willie Smith. There were many other great players but those were the best. Davis and McConachy came the closest to Lindrum.

It was week’s match and very tight. We played two, two-hour sessions each day. The conditions very much suited Clark, they didn’t suit me. Clark was brought up on very slow tables because of the nursery cannons. With the present cloth today, you wouldn’t play nursery cannons, they are too fast, and you wouldn’t hold them together.”

“It was slow cushions and slow cloth. If you put up a long in-off, with the red around the centre spot or just towards Baulk, you could not play the in-off and get the red back around the table, the table was so slow. The only way you could play it was off two cushions to leave the red by the pyramid spot. This made it very difficult for me and I didn’t play anything like I could have played if it was on the conditions that I was used to playing on, but of course we were playing in New Zealand and that was how it was set up.”

After defeating Fred Davis to win the 1983 World Billiards Championship, Rex then put his full efforts into snooker, but in 1995 made an impressive comeback at the British Open Billiards Championship. At 61 years of age, his best years were behind him by his own admission. However, in this event, the game’s leading stars Geet Sethi and Mike Russell were taught a lesson by the ‘vintage’ Rex Williams, as he rolled back the years on the way to the final.

“This [1983 final] actually was the final time I played billiards and I hadn’t played for a long time until I played in the British Open Championship losing to Peter Gilchrist in the final.

I was only a shadow of a player I’d been, but I still thought I could do something even then.”

What were your highest breaks in competition and practice?

“My best break in practice was 1174. When I used to play billiards, I only used to practice billiards for about two weeks before playing in the championship. I honestly couldn’t tell you what my highest break in competition was, but I made several 500-600 breaks. Although I can tell you that when I played Jack Karnehm for a week at Chelmsford, I averaged 85, which was quite an average. This was the only time I played Jack, and Jack was a great player.

I made the second 147 break in South Africa in Cape Town, this was recognised as the joint record at the time with Joe Davis. These were the only two recognised 147’s that I am aware of, that were made with the old, heavy Crystalate balls.”

 What were your best memories from snooker?

“I was a bit unfortunate with snooker because by the time we played at the Crucible, I was 44 years of age then, there had been nothing played really for years and my best years had gone.

I resurrected the World Snooker Championship in 1964 and it was played on a challenge basis. The first challenge was John Pulman against Fred Davis. John beat Fred and then he beat him again. Then I played John twice and he beat me twice.

I made the highest break in the World Snooker Championship against Fred Davis when I was about 21, I made 141. Then I beat that in South Africa when I made 142 and those were the championship records at the time.”

 How did you mix both snooker and billiards, in terms of practice and cue action required?

“When I came into the game, I was a natural billiards player, but I spent most of my time playing snooker. During my snooker years I was probably only playing billiards 5% of my time whereas snooker was 95%. Fred Davis was also a natural billiards player. John Pulman was a good billiards player.

There are certain players who play snooker that would never be able to play billiards because of their cue action. There are certain players who could play billiards but who have probably never played. Ronnie [O’Sullivan] has the cue action to suit billiards perfectly. Jimmy White also has the cue action that would suit billiards perfectly.

Joe Davis was such a great billiards player but his cue action suited snooker also. Joe developed snooker. I played Joe a lot, and people often don’t realise what a great player he was.”

 In general, do you think playing snooker helps a player’s billiard game? Did it benefit your billiards, in terms of honing your cueing and potting?

“It’s the other way around actually. The cue action of billiards helps a snooker player, you need that good follow through. The action of Ronnie O’Sullivan and the touch of Jimmy White would suit billiards down to the ground, and there would be other players too.

I was criticised once or twice for refusing to take a pot on at the top of the table, because I was not confident of taking the pot on, but that was complete and utter rubbish! The most dangerous shot on the table is a pot. An in-off is a piece of cake, a cannon is a piece of cake – it’s knowing where you’re going to knock the balls is the important thing – but you can always miss a pot. If you watch a player who is a good top of the table player, they’ll take a little more time on the pot. The pot can always be missed. You avoid your pots if you can. You don’t want to be playing too many pots off the spot if you are far away. You want to be playing a nice little cannon, pushing the red towards the pocket to leave an easier pot.

Generally speaking, with today’s billiards player, they would still be able to play snooker, but it doesn’t necessarily work the other way around.”

When you were practising billiards, what areas would you usually focus on?

“I would always start my practice with red ball. I would get the cue-ball and hit it up the spots. I would hit it below centre, centre, and then top, and hit it at a fair speed to try and make sure you hit the cue-ball where you are aiming to. Then I would go onto my red ball and practice that for a while, and then go on to top of the table.”

Is there any advice you would give to aspiring billiard players looking to improve their game?

In terms of getting to the top of the table: “The dangerous shot that gets you to the top of the table is the drop cannon. I always preferred to get the two object balls below the centre spot so that I could play in-off into the centre to drop the white behind the spot, and then pot red and go to top of the table. That’s a more certain way of getting to the top but you can’t always do it that way.”

“Your drop cannons are coming into it all the time. A lot of people think when you are playing a drop cannon, that you’re trying to put the white behind the spot and push the red towards the pocket. That’s wrong, I never did that. The way to play a drop cannon is to drop the three balls together, you know you will have another shot. If you try and push the red towards the pocket, it’s got to be very accurate and it can go wrong.

Playing to bring the red ball back to the middle of the table [on a long loser] is very dangerous, because the red could come around and catch the jaw of the middle pocket. If you catch the first jaw you could knock the red into Baulk, or you could knock it into the centre pocket. The way to play that shot is to play it a bit thicker than you would normally play it and bring it near the pyramid spot, and then play it back up. This is a much safer way. What you must always do in billiards, and snooker, is play the safest possible way.

The backbone of billiards is the red ball. It doesn’t matter how good you are at top of the table; you’ve got to be a good red ball player to get the balls there. Also, when you lose them at the top, you’ve got to break up into open play and then get them back. You’ve got to be able to play red ball. Every great billiards player that’s ever lived has had to be a great red ball player.

The important thing is hitting the centre of the cue-ball, you’ve got to hit that consistently. You’ve got to have a good, solid stance. You’ve got to keep your head still, if your head moves then everything moves, and you’ve got to get a nice follow through.

Sorry for the late publishing. A few things happened in the world that caught my attention… I postponed it, then forgot about it. Thanks Lewis for the reminder!

A good article about referee Terry Camilleri

This was published yesterday by the “Independent of Malta” and it’s good to read. 

50 Shades of Greats: Snooker referee Terry Camilleri

Simon Farrugia Sunday, 17 May 2020

Terry Camilleri

Terry Camilleri was born on 19 January 1974. He hails from and lives in the small village of Kalkara. He is married to Elaine and has two children, Thomas and Emma. He made a name for himself and for our country through the game of snooker and today he is considered as one of the world’s best referees.

Contrary to nowadays childhood in the 80s was much different. Recalling his early days Terry, the sixth personality to be interviewed for this column, had this to say: “My childhood was very basic and normal at my time. I come from a family of three brothers of which I am the eldest. I grew up in the period when life was much easy and when we used to go outside to play with other friends for most of the time. It was when socialising was as it should be, playing physically with friends and meeting new friends and speaking to friends face to face. Unfortunately this is very different than the online world we are living in today, especially as children.”

Looking back at his school days, as was the normal practice, Terry attended primary school at his hometown in Kalkara. “The school was just round the corner from our house but then I moved to De La Salle College for my secondary school. I then continued my studies in finance which it is where I ended up working with a private company.”

But how did it all start? From where did this interest in the game of snooker begin?  Camilleri gave us an insight of his love to this sport. “My interest in snooker started when my father, as a carpenter, made us a snooker table at home. I fell immediately in love with the sport, but never imagined myself reaching the position I have today! I also remember watching Pot Black, a UK production, broadcast on our local channel. We used to struggle a bit because at that time TV was black and white, until I remember my grandmother getting a coloured one and we used to gather to watch it on colour TV!

Apart from snooker, Terry also had a passion for other sports. “I was always a sport lover in general. I am a football fan and used to love playing as well, with village friends and at school. I am also fond of the national Regatta and also managed to take part in it, where I achieved a second and a third place in two races. Furthermore, I am also a motorsport enthusiast.”

Terry Camilleri at WC

Though playing the game of snooker was his passion Camilleri had an orientation to start officiating games. He recounts how all this happened. “My career started when as a youth, I used to play snooker at our local youth centre. Then in 1990, I heard that a tournament was going to be organised in Malta, which was the first ever Pro-Am Tournament, which had local players and Tony Drago as a professional player. For this tournament the Malta Billiards and Snooker Association was organising a rules’ refresher course to all snooker players by a senior referee from the UK. I decided to apply to get to know the rules better and at the end of the course there was an option to take a referee exam. I sat for the exam and qualified as a Class 3 snooker referee.”

The association wanted qualified referees to take charge of some matches in this tournament. “I accepted and this was the first step I took in my career. This tournament started being organised every year and I ended up being part of the referees’ pool. Year after year snooker in Malta was becoming increasingly successful, thanks to the Association and snooker promotions and the fact that more top UK players were coming over to participate in these tournaments.”

“Moreover, more UK referees were coming to Malta for their refresher courses. After being assessed by senior UK referees, I was asked to go to the UK to referee some matches at qualifying stages. And after a couple of years I was asked to be part of a team of professional referees and referee tournaments at the top level. After consultation with my wife and family, I decided to go ahead. It was not an easy decision as I had to spend a lot of time abroad without my family. My career continued to grow over the years and eventually developed me in one of the top referees in the world of snooker.”

Terry Camilleri. replacing

In fact his experiences took him to the pinnacle of this sport. “I had a lot of experiences in my career which most of them are on the positive side. Some of them are obviously refereeing various prestigious finals of big tournaments, not just in the UK but all over the world. Obviously among various finals, some stand out in particular – the Triple Crown tournaments, the UK Championship and the Masters, which I fondly cherish.

Camilleri kept on going down memory lane. “I also have great experiences by being in charge of four maximum breaks, the famous 147. I was also lucky to referee the 100 centuries in one season of Neil Robertson and the 1,000 carrier centuries of Ronnie O’Sullivan, which are both unique in the history books until today. Obviously one also has some bad days. Although there are only a few of them I still consider them part of my learning curve.”

You made it to the top in the international field. How did you succeed in doing it? “I made it to the top with a lot of learning through the years. I have learnt a lot from my assessors. It was not an easy ride as I had to spend a lot of time abroad without my family. Sometimes you start missing them and your home country but you have to keep strong and show your determination. I have taken my success and opportunities gradually.”

Camilleri is very grateful to all those who helped him during his career as a referee which successfully grew every year and which developed him in one of the top referees in the world of snooker. This was achieved by sheer determination, professionalism, dedication, commitment and a lot of sacrifices.

Terry explains what it means for a referee from a small country like Malta being on the tour with the best professional snooker players. “As a Maltese to be in this position gives me unexplainable pride. I feel very proud and satisfied when I tell people on our circuit and all snooker fans from all over the world that I am from Malta. I feel that from a small island to be included in the top list of referees in the world is something special. A proud moment is when you are introduced as a Maltese referee in front of all the spectators in the arena and to millions of television viewers. Also a great feeling is when meeting people in the street which recognise me and tell me, we watch snooker because you are a Maltese like us, and we ended up enjoying snooker.”

But how is your relationship with the players and fellow referees? “Relationship with players and fellow referees is very good; we are very sociable between us off the table. For me it is my second family. We travel together and we are very close and ready to help one another.”

Snooker, like all other sports, was hardly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, among others the World Championships played at the famous Crucible in Sheffield.

How is the snooker world coping with the situation? “Yes at the moment, like all other sport, snooker is suspended. I think it was the best decision for everyone in the current situation. Obviously many tournaments were cancelled, among them, the World Championship, which hopefully some arrangements are being done to play the tournament in the coming summer, if things obviously get better.

Is the future of snooker, both in Malta and abroad, being hard hit by today’s technological life? “I think snooker at the moment is at its peak. We have a lot of tournaments being organised all over the world and also broadcasting snooker on TV has increased the followers drastically. In Malta, snooker is getting back to its glory days as we have passed a period where it was going downhill. Since the opening of the Snooker Academy here in Malta, thanks to a lot of people working for this with the help of Sports Malta, snooker is being developed in the correct way again and hopefully in the future we will have some players who will make it to the top professional circuit.”

Behind a successful man there is always a woman. That’s how the saying goes. But for Terry it’s not just a saying. “Family is my precious jewel. I really owe a lot to my wife who is very supportive and also with regards to me being abroad a lot of the time; she had a big responsibility in bringing up and caring for our children.”

Taking a more personal side I asked Terry what is his favourite food. “I like every type of food but I certainly would choose Mediterranean. With my condition as a celiac I cannot eat everything so I have to be very careful especially when we are travelling with regards to food.”

Snooker took him to different parts of the globe but which country does he consider as his favourite destination? “I consider the UK as my second home country now, but I like travelling to all other destinations. Every country has its own beauty and characteristics.”

Though Camilleri has a very hectic life, does he have time for hobbies? “I enjoy watching football and especially go to watch Manchester United playing when I can. Also I like to go and watch the Malta National Team matches. Having said this I enjoy watching any sport on TV. I consider myself a sports maniac!”

And when Terry has some free time on his hands, away from the world of sport what does he like doing? “I enjoy doing maintenance work at home which makes me relax a lot. Also going for a walk with my family around my home town Kalkara, which is part of the beautiful Grand Harbour, is also a must. I am also a member of a Scout Group. I enjoy doing voluntary work with our group which is one of the biggest on the island at the moment. I am a member of the committee, which takes care and helps out in organising fund-raising events, camps and other functions. Although it is not an easy job to do, it is very relaxing for me as I meet up with some true friends and also gives me an unexplainable feeling in doing voluntary work.”

One final word to the young generation. “My advice is to be dedicated and enjoy doing their favourite sport, in our case snooker. You have to work hard to achieve. Nothing comes easy and success has to be gained by your abilities, dedication and professionalism. Humility should be a priority in life and always to remain humble, then recognition and success will come your way.”

Enjoy!

Players back at the table soon? Hum …

This was published yesterday by WPBSA:

WPBSA Proposals Submitted to Parliament for Re-Opening of UK Snooker Facilities

13th May 2020

The Chairman of the UK Parliament’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, has today submitted to the Sports Minister proposals for the re-opening of snooker clubs.

The proposals incorporate guidance for club owners and staff to be able to operate as sporting facilities by providing a safe and controlled environment for all.

Since the UK government placed the country into ‘lockdown’ on 23 March to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus we have maintained regular communication with a number of our affiliated clubs, hosting an online forum to help us to identify the key issues currently facing club owners during this unprecedented crisis.

In parallel with these proposals for the opening of clubs to the public, we are today also able to provide further guidance to our professional players based in the UK.

Step 1 – Professional Players’ Return to Work

We are acutely aware of the impact of the current closure of clubs and academies upon our professional players, many of whom have been unable to practice without access to their facilities.

Earlier this week plans were announced by the UK government for the easing of some restrictions over the coming weeks, which will allow some sporting activity to resume. This included the government advice document titled ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’ which states that:

“All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.”

Having carefully considered this government advice we are today able to advise WST professional players only that they can now return to their practice facilities if specified conditions are met. These conditions are clearly set out HERE.

The place of work of a professional snooker player is not only at events. It is also where their practice table is based for training purposes. It is essential that players to have access to training facilities before returning to professional tournament play.

Snooker is no different to other professional sports and professional snooker players are no different to other athletes in this respect. Return to professional competition or approved online activity is essential for professional players to earn a living.

Should any players have any questions or concerns please contact WPBSA Player Relations Manager Neil Tomkinswho will be able to provide further advice.

Step 2 – Re-Opening of Clubs to General Public

We are actively engaging with Parliament through the APPG to demonstrate how snooker can be played safely and responsibly by recreational and amateur players whilst adhering to current social distancing rules.

Key proposals include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Regular cleaning of venues on a daily basis
  • Hand sanitiser to be provided at all tables, entrances and toilets
  • Regular cleaning of equipment after every customer
  • Staff to wear masks and gloves
  • Limited entry to venues / reduced opening hours
  • Social distancing measures including clear signage for customer flow to/from tables to be observed
  • Closure of bar areas with limited table service/takeaway food options to be provided
  • Player guidance to avoid unnecessary sharing of equipment and interaction
  • Should any club be found to be in breach of guidance provided they would be liable to closure by the relevant authorities.

It is hoped that that through the strict introduction of such measures it will be possible to re-open snooker clubs to the public in a safe and sustainable manner.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “The unprecedented global situation that exists has had a profound effect upon us all and of course snooker has not been able to escape the reality that we currently find ourselves in.

“Our message to everyone connected with snooker however is that the WPBSA is there for you and are working hard to be able to restart our sport – at all levels – as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so. This will not be without its challenges, but through the measures submitted to Parliament today we are confident that the wider public will be able to access our sport’s facilities and will remain proactive until this is achieved.”

“We are further grateful for the support provided to us by the APPG which has worked with us closely during this process.”

Next Steps

Following the submission of our proposals to Parliament both the WPBSA and the APPG will maintain dialogue with the government and its relevant authorities to secure the full re-opening of snooker venues as soon as possible.

At the time of writing however, we would remind all UK clubs that they must follow all laws and guidance published by the government at its website: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Please DO read the conditions for solo training: WPBSA-Step-1-Return-to-training-_FINAL

It’s a great effort by WPBSA to design and submit these proposals to allow players back at the table, for training purposes as the first step. The document is clear, easy to read, and well structured.

Now ask yourself if adhering even just to half of that would be realistically feasible in match play with 12 tables, 128 players, plus fitters, referees, and officials on-site. One of the recommendations is to avoid touching the table as much as possible. How’s that gonna work in a match?  I’m well aware that mid-July – the latest possible start for the World Championship qualifiers –  is still 2 months away, but I very much doubt that a return to “normal”, or “normal enough” will be possible within these two months. I honestly can’t see the World Qualifiers being played “safely” by then.