17.12.08

DEAFENING SILENCE

Sir Rodney Walker, the WPBSA chairman, has become unusually publicity shy.

Responding to a request by Phil Yates of The Times for a comment about the betting irregularities surrounding the Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett match at the Maplin UK Championship, he would not give one.

The governing body he chairs has not even stated whether they are investigating this match and refuse to answer questions about it.

It is pretty much the only topic of conversation backstage in Telford. When Burnett fluked the pink, a huge ironic cheer went up in a packed players’ room, followed by an even louder one when he missed the black.

Players scurried into the media centre to watch the press conferences.

What most people can’t believe – regardless of what actually happened in the match – is that the WPBSA are remaining silent.

It isn’t good enough.

Snooker’s integrity hangs by a thread. The governing body cannot merely bury its head in the sand and hope it all goes away.

Stephen Hendry has spoken out, and credit to him. He told the Daily Record: “If any player is caught match-fixing they deserve to be banned for life. It’s such a serious issue no player can go unpunished.”

Clive Everton has also called for an investigation and many commentators – players of the old school who came into the game when there was little money available and who were grateful to be able to make a living from snooker – are absolutely appalled by the whole affair.

The WPBSA needs to show leadership. They did so when Peter Francisco lost 10-2 to Jimmy White at the 1995 World Championship, another match with suspicious betting patterns.

A panel of former players was convened to watch the match back on tape and Francisco was swiftly found guilty and banned for five years.

This whole process was conducted openly and the WPBSA regime of the time actively encouraged the media to report it because they wanted to be seen to be getting their house in order.

How times change.

This defeaning silence over an affair that has seriously harmed snooker’s reputation has to end and it has to end before the tournament is over.

7 comments:

Monique said...

Ken Doherty has come out aswell
http://www.setanta.com//uk/Articles/other-sports/2008/12/17/Snooker-Doherty-on-fixing/gnid-31924/

I wonder what's going on actually. Any news from the Ebdon-Liang affair?

Anonymous said...

Remember, the sort of collusion that is being alleged probably takes two people's cooperation. I trust that justice will apply equally to players whatever their ranking, rather than finding a lowly ranked scapegoat and ignoring the 'star'.

The problem World Snooker now have is that if they open an investigation into Maguire-Burnett they must also do the same in Ebdon-Wenbo, where the sums of money that are alleged to have changed hands are greater, and where one of the players involved sits on the board. To fail to do this would smack of double standards. In fact it could be contended that Maguire-Burnett was a by product of Ebdon-Wenbo: if nothing will be done about alleged malpractice, it only encourages further incidents.

What is clear is that the silence that we are enduring at the moment is damaging the integrity of the sport and making World Snooker look even worse - if that were possible.

Anonymous said...

World snooker should announce now whether or not the match (and the Ebdon/Wenbo match) are being investigated- they just need to indicate yes or no and then this will quieten down and we can focus on the snooker. I presume they chose to say nothing while Maguire remains in the tournament but by taking that approach this issue is overshadowing the rest of the tournament.
I wonder what the Press Association is telling the press about this story- if taking their information from the world snooker website it doesn't appear to be very prominent!
John H

Anonymous said...

Here is my suggestion; in the blog section of World Snooker's site they ask for comments and questions and give an email address. I have emailed to ask about the match fixing and suggest that we all email them in a similar way. Even if they don't respond hopefully they'll get the message.

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

How the hell can Ebdon remain on the board when it's the board who decides whether or not to investigate.

I thought New Labour were bad but if this is the New World Snooker then God Help You!

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

And the WPBSA statement is a joke too.

One law for Board Members and another law for members.

All Rodney Walker reminds me of is a Russian dictator called Stalin.

Anonymous said...

well at last we have an announcement that the Maguire/Burnett match is being investigated! surely if comments from bookmakers are similar for the Ebdon/Wenbo match identical action is swiftly required there and it should be announced in order to give all players the same unprejudiced treatment. I would imagine that Peter Ebdon, being a very pleasant gentlemen who I have had the priveledge of speaking to on a number of occasions, would want a vigorous investigation to take place so he can be fully exonerated from any suspicion and world snooker can show that their is no cause for concern with the integrity of this great game.