Mark Williams has confirmed to the journalist Gary Baker that his split from the 110sport management camp was not amicable.
I have no wish to comment or speculate on this specific case but it raises the question of the relationship between players and managers.
To the best of my knowledge there is no licensing of managers in snooker. You or I could, in theory, sign up a player and represent them without any qualifications whatsoever.
(Indeed, during one very drunken night at the Irish Masters a few years ago myself and a colleague did this very thing. I can only hope a few scrawled promises on the back of a napkin are not legally binding).
Without naming names, there have been some very dodgy characters calling themselves ‘managers’ over the years. Players usually get wise to them but only after being massively ripped off.
What should a manager do for his player?
Their main role should be to take away all the pressure of being a professional sportsman. Therefore, they should do all the admin: booking hotels and practice times, arranging travel, looking after finances, obtaining sponsors, promoting the player and raising their profile.
The player will be expected to give a cut of their prize money and off table earnings to their manager in return for these services.
It hasn’t always worked. Howard Kruger’s Framework and Geoff Faint’s Wheels in Motion each collapsed with various amounts of money being owed.
Other managers have come and gone – usually gone with a fair slice of the player’s money in their back pocket.
Barry Hearn’s Matchroom stable of the 1980s was hugely successful and included most of the game’s top players. They even made a record with Chas n Dave, ‘Snooker Loopy.’
110sport, or Cuemasters and then TSN as it was later known, was the leading stable of the 1990s.
They had (and still have) Stephen Hendry while various other top stars have come and gone over the years.
Ian Doyle ran the company with great enthusiasm until his retirement a couple of years ago, after which his son, Lee, took over.
Stephen Maguire, Ronnie O’Sullivan and now Williams have all left. This in itself does not mean anything amiss has happened but suggests that some players would rather manage their own affairs and thus hang on to all of their money, apart from that which the taxman takes.
Only time will tell whether this is a smart move or not.