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.


Marcus Stead said...

I’m still pretty young, but I seem to recall Peter Ebdon was the first prominent player to decide to manage his own affairs.

I remember reading in the book “Walking on Water” by the late, great, Brian Clough, that one of the most important aspects of his job was to do all the players’ thinking for them.

He would decide what time they travelled, which hotel they’d stay at, what they ate for dinner, what time they trained, and so on. That made their lives as easy as possible, therefore they could concentrate on what they do best- play football!

The job of a snooker manager isn’t especially different. By looking after their own affairs they have to do all this stuff for themselves, and it’s not something I would relish!

I’m well aware of bad experiences certain players have had- I’ve spoken at length to a former associate of Mr Kruger about some of the things he did and it’s not pleasant reading.

However, if you were a leading sportsman, would you really want so much of your time taken up with the hassle managing your own affairs brings?

I don’t know the ins and outs of what’s gone on at 110sport, and have no desire to pass judgement, but having to do all this stuff for yourself, particularly when you have little or no business acumen, cannot be a good thing.

Besides, I’m sure it closes many doors when it comes to sponsorship or promotional work.

Maybe it’s time Matchroom aftershave and slippers made a comeback! (yes, they really did exist!)



Top-Snooker said...

very interesting article, thank you Dave

andy said...

The main difference between snooker management and football management is money. The best managers in the business would shy away from snooker management because they can't make enough money from the sport.

I was talking to a pro about 5 years ago and he said, ...after winning a major that year, that his "salary" for the year was about 1 million pounds. The "salary" included good sponsorship deals as he was a major force in the game at the time. If a manager is taking 20% of that then he would earn 200k from that player, and let's say, for example another 200k from another 4 players that do well.

That's only a total revenue of 400k to run a business, pay employees, take a salary, pay corporate and private taxes, and manage 5 players. From those numbers, it looks like snooker management would be a very tight and marginal business. The best managers in the business would be better off managing stars in sports that attract higher revenues.

As revenue in snooker increases, so will the quality of the management.


Monique said...

Well ROS and Mark Williams situation don't come out as similar here.
ROS has changed management a number of times during his carreer, he was with 110 sports since a bit less than 3 years (October 2005), the tone of his press release does not suggest a hard conflictual situation and the article suggests the main "pain point" was a question of exclusivity of rights.
Williams has been with 110 spots from the start of his pro life and that article sounds very bitter. Plenty of hard feelings.
So I'm not sure anything can be cocluded from the time coincidence of those departures except that the "inter-season" period is of course the time for such changes... None would be foolish enough to change that in the middle of the season if not forced to!