Sir Rodney Walker, the chairman of World Snooker, said in his interview on BBC Radio 5 Live a week ago that prize money had risen by “a quarter of a million” for the new season.
We’ve checked this and, using World Snooker’s own figures, can reveal the increases for each tournament.
World Championship: £61,000
UK Championship: £34,600
Grand Prix: £32,100
Shanghai Masters: £25,000
China Open: £25,000
Welsh Open: £0
Northern Ireland Trophy: £0
This equals a total increase of £199,700.
You’ll notice this is not a “quarter of a million” but, of course, does not include any new tournaments, including the one in the Middle East.
The prize money breakdowns are interesting in that the first prizes have only gone up in two tournaments – the Chinese ones.
Instead, it is lower down, most notably in the last 32 round, where the money has chiefly increased.
Bizarrely, the losing semi-finalists in the Shanghai Masters and China Open will receive £3,000 LESS than they would have last season.
My personal opinion is that prize money in sport should reward success, not turning up.
On a related note, some people who read this blog may not have heard of Altium or the deal they offered the players in 2002, so allow me to fill you in...
They were backed by an investment bank and wanted to run a circuit of 64 for at least five years, retaining all commercial rights themselves as in, for example, Formula One.
As it transpired, the players would have played for £9.5m more than they ended up competing for had they voted for Altium.
The vote between Altium and the alternative bidder – World Snooker Enterprises, who were not investing a single penny – was split 36-36.
After a few weeks of stalemate in the subsequent negotiations, Altium walked away.
World Snooker immediately cut prize money but still survived what was effectively a vote of confidence in an EGM.
Altium lost for three main reasons:
1) Players were unwilling to lose ‘control’ of the game and give it to a financial organisation.
2) The cutting of the circuit to 64 players obviously meant many would be off the tour – although a fully funded Challenge Tour was part of the deal, worth far more than the current PIOS.
3) Ian Doyle and his players supported Altium and a lot of players would rather be worse off than have Doyle on the winning side.
I don’t personally see the value in the players having ‘control’ of a governing body when it actually disadvantages them financially.
World Snooker Enterprises were awarded a ten-year contract but it was terminated after only ten months when they failed to deliver on their promises.
£9.5m seems a lot of money to turn down. Actually, it is a lot of money to turn down.
This all happened before Sir Rodney’s involvement in snooker and he is to be credited with bringing financial stability to the game.
However, the increase on offer this season is nowhere near what the players could have played for had they gone with Altium.
It is inconceivable that they would vote the same way were the original deal back on the table today.
Unfortunately for them, it isn’t.