1.12.08

WHY NOT EUROPE?

“World Snooker has done some good work in Asia in recent years but Europe is definitely a market that they could be exploiting more. I think the interest is equal, if not bigger, in Europe than it is in China.”

So said Mark Selby on his new blog on the Eurosport website.

Anyone who knows Mark will know that he’s not a trouble maker or nursing a hidden agenda. He’s simply saying what everyone who has witnessed the European snooker boom also believes.

Take a look at this clip. It is Ronnie O’Sullivan being introduced to the crowd in Hamm, Germany this weekend.

What an extraordinary reaction, one that I know would have touched Ronnie.

The fans at the Berlin leg of the World Series in July were just as enthusiastic. Stephen Maguire said it was the biggest crowd he had ever played in front of.

The crowds were also huge at the World Series events in Warsaw and Russia. Not only that but they were genuinely excited to see live snooker.

John Higgins recently did an exhibition in Copenhagen that was sold out. O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson did one in Prague last week that also attracted a huge audience.

By signing its broadcast deal with Eurosport, World Snooker has created a huge booming market.

So why aren’t they exploiting it?

Why aren’t there any major tournaments promoted by the governing body in mainland Europe?

The fans are clearly there. You could have three ranking events in Germany and tickets would sell out within hours.

Contrast that with the recent Bahrain Championship, where audiences were embarrassing and which cost World Snooker fortunes.

Credit goes to Higgins and his manager, Pat Mooney, for setting up the World Series which has taken top class snooker to a continent crying out for it.

Next week, Mooney will meet with Eurosport to discuss venues for 2009. In the running are Ireland (possibly Goffs, former home of the Irish Masters and one of the best arenas snooker has ever had), Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

“Pat and the team have been in discussions with all of the countries above, having received applications from each to host an event,” Higgins said.

“We would of course love to host many more, however it is down to ensuring there is no conflict with other events and promotions and also the available TV scheduling of Eursport.

“The success and momentum caused by the success of our first year has been staggering. When Pat first talked about the potential and popularity of the game in these locations I was a little sceptical to say the least, but now I am just buzzed about each and every new location.”

Mooney hopes the World Series will see the governing body following suit and investing in Europe.

“We see the ground work we have done paving the way for World Snooker to be able to react to the demands of the fans and come in and capitalise on the start we have made,” he said.

“Who knows that may even be a good model for the development of professional snooker and it reduces the risk of going into new territories blind and not knowing if the fans and the infrastructure is there.

“We always said we would ensure we compliment the main tour and share information with World Snooker and the lessons we have learned this year can only be a bonus, and are available to all.”

Snooker, contrary to what some people say, is not dead or dying.

Its popularity in the UK has declined and participation is affected by factors such as the smoking ban.

But on the continent of Europe there are millions – literally – of fans ready to support the game.

Apart from the obvious considerations of finances and sponsorship why are they not being given the chance to do so?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only explanation I can see has to do with the finances.

If we look at the snooker calendar, the only ranking tournaments outside UK are in China and Middle East. Europe doesn’t seem to have the overwhelming numbers of the first nor the oil money of the latter.

I mean, there was a ranking event in Germany in the past. Why did it end?
Malta, last time I checked was still in Europe. Why did the Malta Cup lose his ranking status?

It also has to be said that most of the successful events that have taken place in Europe recently have been weekend things only. If we look at what a ranking event usually offers over a weekend, it’s only 3 matches out of 31, the semis and the final.
What kind of response can one expect from the European audience for the remaining 28 matches during working days?

Mig

volunteer said...

You could have three ranking events in Germany and tickets would sell out within hours.

I don't want to spoil any enthusiasm here, but being German myself I have to be objective: On Friday evening of the Hamm event, the arena was filled only to 20-25% of capacity, despite players like Murphy, Williams and Doherty. Even on Saturday afternoon, when Day and Robertson joined the lineup, it wasn't much better. Only in the evening, when Ronnie showed up, the arena got packed under the roof.
Don't take me wrong: I'd love to see an MT event here in Germany, and I tremendously enjoy the atmosphere that the fans here generate while watching live snooker, but the expectations shouldn't be too high: snooker has established a certain fanbase here, but it's still not a sport for the masses. And the dedicated fans (which I consider myself to be a part of) have only limited amounts of time and money to spend.

celt147 said...

Yes, hats off to the World Series lads again. More European events would be a big plus for the game in general.

However, snooker being back at Goffs in Ireland would be sensational, it hasn't been played there since the tobacco sponsorship ban in Ireland in 2000 (After 22 years as home to the B&H Irish Masters).

It's certainly one of the best snooker venues out there.

stuartfanning said...

World Snooker would schedule Snooker tournaments in Europe if sponsors came forward with the money to stage them. They would also be looking for interest from national broadcasters not just Eurosport. Until both those things are forthcoming, and after their failure in Bahrain, World Snooker will continue to be cautious.

Dave H said...

Stuart - what you say is true but do World Snooker have anyone going to Germany and elsewhere in Europe to meet sponsors, promoters and broadcasters? My information is that they don't.

They have a first rate executive based permanently in China and I would suggest someone is appointed to work on planning for Europe.

Pete Williams said...

I absolutely agree with you Dave, I was only writing the same thing myself on the 25th (http://cuesporttv.com/blog/?p=272) after Higgins won in Moscow.

If there is to be a true 'World Tour' there needs to be events in these up and coming areas. We had a close chat with Brandon Parker about this event in Germany and there certainly is the money available - we also have some footage from Germany as well and should be available later this week.

To counter someones point above, crowds would undoubtedly be poor during the week of a ranking event so why not change the format slightly to suit different venues/tournaments/countries. It has been done before with the Grand Prix. One solution may be to have a smaller venue akin to the EIS or Prestatyn for the majority of the tournament and then use the Friday-Sunday in a larger venue to pack in the crowds. Both Sat and Sunday night the venue was sold out to 1500 people in Hamm, there is certainly a market.

Anonymous said...

Agree 100% Dave. I've been asking the question to myself for months. It's so obvious to me I can't believe no one at World Snooker has even noticed how much snooker Eurosport shows and what that might mean in terms of fanbases.

Anonymous said...

Sponsors not only bring prize money. They bring a sense of occasion. When Goffs was at its best it was because the sponsors and tournament team made it a huge event for their customers, who would enjoy a social day out. The back-up costs were massive, but made the tournament important enough to guarantee media coverage - even though it was only an invitational. They also had a tradition of autograph sessions after the matches, - well organised with players guaranteed to appear and sign and pose for photographs. Fans were rewarded for their loyalty and it was a good-value day out.

Anonymous said...

to be honest id like "WorldSnooker" to "hold their horses" for the next two years and give the WSeries a chance and then hopefully by that time the two can work well together (not that they cant work just now). If WSnooker act now i wouldnt want them to rush things, even if the interest is there, as WSnooker dont usually do well when they rush things. I do however think they need to act quite fast, but if they do jump in like before they wont make as good a job of it without the best part of 3 years of experience lent to them by Pat and co.

that way hopefully it will be extablished tourS which arent half put together (not aimed at Pat/Johns tour, but at govern body)

onwards and upwards for both

Anonymous said...

Completely off-topic, sorry for that...

...but Jimmy White just came back from 6-8 down to edge David Grace 9-8 in the opening qualifying round of the UK Championship.

Go Jimmy! ;-)

Anonymous said...

A question,

Does anyone know if the World Series in the form of Pat and John have talked to World Snooker, about teaming up and using the World Series as the test case for loaction as the WSS must run on a much smaller budget than WS

Sparky said...

Maybe what snooker really needs is a Team Event again? After World cup and Nations Cup disappeared from the snooker calendar in 2001, we don't have any of that. And I think Germany would be the perfect host for such a team event.

This would be the deal: Three players per team, one "First league" with England, Scotland, Wales, China, Northern Ireland and Rep of Ireland. One Round Robin stage where all teams meet. First four teams to the semis, last team relegated to "Second League", which consists of, say, Australia, Thailand, Malta, Belgium, Germany and Canada. First team gets promoted to First League next season.

This way there'll be no such things as in World Cup 1996, when the better teams smashed the likes of Iceland, New Zealand and Holland. The better teams will only meet the better teams!

Monique said...

I was in Hamm for the three days and it's true that the venue was only 25% full on Friday evening and 50% on Saturday early afternoon.
There is on thing however I want to say to "mitigate" the impression that only Ronnie dragged the crowd (he did of course and how!). Hamm is a rather small city with limited accomodation capacity. I booked my hotel already two month ago ... and it was the third I tried. Others were fully booked already. I met friends there who all had travelled some 5-6 hours to watch snooker (and Ronnie, true)... They were in a hotel that had to refuse over 50 guests the Saturday only. Same thing in my own hotel. So maybe it's worth considering some bigger city with good connections and accomodation capacity and see what happens then.
In Warshaw in June 2007 the venue was quite packed from first day on, not just for the final or the big names.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
a World Series in Portugal? Uauuuu... i´d love it!!!
I´m a big snooker fan and Portugal is a country where we play a lot of pool games. Unfortunately there´s not a single snooker table in the whole country (information by the portuguese snooker commentator on Eurosport).
I´m sure that a tournament in Portugal will atract a large crowd... we have a tradition of suppporting world class events in an enthusiastic way (Red Bull Air Series is the last example with over 1million people watching it live in Gaia and Oporto, by the Douro river.
C´mon: bring on the snooker world series to Portugal! You won´t regret it.

Nuno Cardoso

Volunteer said...

@Monique: I'm not saying that only Ronnie attracts the crowd, but what I am saying is that people start to get selective on which games they watch and which they don't. As much as I would like to see an MT event here, nobody should expect a sell-out crowd for a whole week, because this simply would not happen.

Monique said...

@volunteer... you are most probably right. But then venues are not fully packed in UK neither. Far from it!

Anonymous said...

"Snooker, contrary to what some people say, is not dead or dying."

Is that why newspapers don't carry anything on it these days?

Anonymous said...

I've been in Hamm for all four sessions and have to agree: It was far from being sold out. BUT where is the problem with that? Even if the arena was only filled 30% - there were over 400 people there on Friday! That's half-a-Crucible and probably ten-times more then at a average session in Bahrain... And the atmosphere was just fantastic - Einsle, McBree, Williams, Hawkins, Doherty and Murphy would definitly support me there :)

Anonymous said...

you cant guarantee that youd get that amount all day every session for over a week. no exhibition or series would suggest such, but theres a good indication of interest there....unlike bahrain which was dire

Volunteer said...

It was far from being sold out. BUT where is the problem with that?

There is no problem with that from my point of view. I just wanted to scale down the expectations for an MT event in Germany. You cannot have "three ranking events in Germany and tickets would sell out within hours" (quote from Dave).

Anonymous said...

But on the continent of Europe there are millions – literally – of fans ready to support the game.

Doesn't seem like it based on the comments above.

Anonymous said...

There is no problem with that from my point of view. I just wanted to scale down the expectations for an MT event in Germany.

I got your point and I totally agree with it. You can't have a ranking event in Germany and expect every session to be sold out (at least not in an arena with 1400 seats). But you would get more visitors then in Bahrain and I expect a venue equal to the level reached in the UK. And I expect the fans to be me more enthusiastic due to the "snooker vacuum" in continental europe.

Doesn't seem like it based on the comments above.

Well, why not? Dave spoke about the whole continent. If you take Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Russia I'm sure we'll get over a million fans who support snooker.

Anonymous said...

Malta is in Europe and 2009 was due to be a ranking event - but I understand that this event is now not going to be held, not even on an invitational basis.
Can anyone confirm or deny this? I rang World Snooker only last week to enquire and I got a one word reply .... "No"

Dave H said...

It isn't on mainland Europe, which I specifically referred to

Anonymous said...

Well, why not? Dave spoke about the whole continent. If you take Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Russia I'm sure we'll get over a million fans who support snooker.

I doubt it - and it's not 'millions' is it.

Claus Christensen said...

Wow, that was amazing footage! This is what it's all about: the atmosphere and the expectations. I do agree that we are dealing with millions. I know quite a lot of people who watch snooker on eurosport (without being bullied into submission by my excitement) and truly believe that mainland Europe would be thrilled to host ranking events. When Higgins recently visited us here in Denmark it was big news. I read one random paper at work and it had two full pages about Higgins. Europe is more than ready!

Anonymous said...

i didnt think the footage was amazing at all

Anonymous said...

Oh My God !

How long is it going to take for it to sink in with snooker?

THE GAME CANNOT COMPETE FOR SPONSORSHIP AGAINST OTHER PROFESSIONALLY RUN SPORTS, WITH THE BUNCH OF AMATEURS, THAT HAVE RUN SNOOKER INTO THE GROUND FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS OR SO, AND THAT ARE RUNNING SNOOKER NOW !

Will be interested to read Clive Everton's view on Sir Rodders and payments (will be a 1st, as I find Everton's articles - in the main - almost puppetry... Get It ?

Ebdon. What does he bring to the party?
He may sound good in front of the camera, and lets not forget he is a brilliant player, but personally, I am led to believe its more like....
Ebdon. What does he TAKE from the party?

Mike Dunn. Spoke with him many times, and trust me, he did'nt impress me. But one of his fellow pro's once told me a tale - which hit the nail squarely on the head - when he went to Dunn (who he has known, and played around at the qualifiers for nearly 15 yrs)and said....
"Mike. What the pheck are you doing on the Board of Directors?"
His reply apparently, gave his fellow pro the enduring memory of that meeting as... "Mike Dunn is'nt clever enough to come up with an answer like that!". Mike's answer to his fellow pro I have not posted, to save the guy from embarrassment.

Regarding the other directors, enough about them can be posted by others who read/post on this site .........and there are many!

However, here's my message to World Snooker & its members.
If you want a progressive, dynamic leader, look no further than Brandon Parker.
He's been under your nose for years, as I never tired of telling many of you.
The only question is, would he want to help now?

L8rs ;o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Brandon ;)

only joking....but i dont think Brandon is *the* leader needed. i think progressively now with the new S.P.A. we should be patient. not much point in rushing now. move swiftly where possible, but dont jump in and make mistakes. it cant get much worse than its been in recent years....and hopefully let the real voices of the players be heard from now on