John Higgins believes the new World Series of Snooker will be an important step forward for the sport.
The twice world champion is among eight top players taking part in the series of four events, which will be organised by his management group, FSTC Scotland, and broadcast on Eurosport.
The World Series kicks off at Fort Regent in St. Helier, Jersey this Saturday (July 21) and will call at Berlin, Moscow and Warsaw before the Grand Finals in Dusseldorf in November.
The popularity of snooker has grown considerably in Europe since the professional circuit’s major events became available to watch on Eurosport.
And Higgins, 32, believes the opportunity to see the top players up close will further increase interest in the green baize game.
“I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed a successful career as a professional. I wanted to give something back to the sport and that’s how the World Series came about,” Higgins said.
“I met Pat Mooney, now my manager, three years ago and, over a few rounds of golf, he asked me about the snooker circuit and what I thought was needed to improve the sport’s fortunes. He came to a few tournaments and started talking about Eastern Europe and whether I thought snooker would be popular there.
“At the same time, the game’s popularity was rising in Europe because of the coverage on Eurosport.
“We decided it was time these new fans had the opportunity to watch live snooker close up, not just on the TV.”
Higgins will be joined in Jersey by fellow former world champions Ken Doherty and Shaun Murphy plus last season’s Masters and Welsh Open winner Mark Selby.
In addition, two Jersey cueman, Gary Britton and Aaron Canavan, Guernsey’s Martyn Desperques and Rafal Jewtuch of Poland will take part.
“We want to nurture home talent in each venue,” Higgins said. “If they are part of the World Series, they will gain some experience of playing the top players on television and it will hopefully help them to improve.
“It’s crucial for the future to help develop new talent and give them a chance to play on the big stage.
“It’s also very important to us to involve the fans. They are what it’s all about. We had a successful event in Poland last year. All the fans seemed really happy to see us players and it was refreshing and enjoyable for all of us.
“It was nice to meet the public after the matches because they were so enthusiastic and that’s the atmosphere we want at all the World Series events.”
The overall winner of the Grand Finals in November will pocket a cheque for €70,000 (£56,000).