As a person, Ronnie O'Sullivan is a mass of contradictions and many of the things he said at his post match press conference at Wembley yesterday contradict what he has said before.

However, there is more than a kernel of truth in what he says about the way snooker is promoted.

As a game, it has a lot going for it: it is easy to televise, has enough variations to make each frame interesting and can produce great drama.

For a period in the 1980s it was the most popular sport on UK TV and awash with sponsorship, tournaments and money.

To borrow a phrase from David Cameron, the WPBSA administration of the time did not fix the roof while the sun was shining. They seemed to believe the honeymoon would last forever.

They were wrong.

I'm not sure Barry Hearn, never mind Simon Cowell, is really interested in taking over the circuit.

However, a few years ago a group of entrepreneurs were. They were called Altium and one of their most vocal opponents was Ronnie O'Sullivan.

He has since admitted he was wrong and credit to him for that.

But the inescapable truth is that snooker's downward spiral dates back to the rejection of their bid to take over the game's commercial rights and promote the sport properly.

There were 2,000 people watching O'Sullivan beat Joe Perry in the Masters yesterday so reports of snooker's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

However, many of us who have been on the circuit for a number of years will recognise his assertion that it has all fallen a little flat backstage and that the fun has gradually drained away.

The sport basically needs a benevolent dictator to come in - as Hearn has in darts - and call the shots without interference.

Would the players vote for them this time? I think so, but who wants to get involved with a sport that his historically been so hostile to entrepreneurship?


Ruthie said...

Sometimes I think there is another contradiction: what makes the game interesting for Ronnie, and what makes it interesting for spectators. Stating publicly that he doesn't like travelling for low prize money and smashed his cue to get things going is controversial and sometimes entertaining, but Ronnie committed to the game and playing well - trying to beat Hendry's record of seven world titles - would be a great deal better.

Anonymous said...

Surely the contradiction is somebody like Ronnie or John Higgins criticising the administration but then (to put it very politely) doing nothing about it when it comes to voting in board members, as they had the opportunity to do recently when Sir Rodney Walker was voted back in effectively unopposed?

EFC71 said...

I was in the Players Lounge for the Stephen Lee / Shaun Murphy QF last month. There was three people present. Two of which were the players' Managers.

It was cringeworthy that there were no sponsors, guests etc etc there. The game IS dying on its arse ...

Monique said...

Anon... how do you know those two did not vote?
John Higgins certainly does something about it with his World Series.

Anonymous said...

Will that be that well known hypocrite John Higgins?

Anonymous said...

What is Ronnie suggesting? That the crowd get up and sing an inane song after each frame is won? Total b*****ks. Barry Hearn and Simon Cowell can bog off.

Angry, of Tonbridge Wells said...

Perhaps Ronnie's attitude towards Altium was coloured by the fact that he received such an enormous loyalty bonus from WPBSA at the time. David it is high time that you and your colleagues recognised O'Sullivan for what he is: an ill-tempered bad loser who is only interested in money to the exclusion of everything else. Feigning illness to avoid travelling abroad for a mere £30000 here and there - he brings as much disrepute to the game as he does undeniable excitement - yet you swiftly excuse the former because of the latter. Stop being an apologist for this clown.

Dave H said...

That'sfunny because it's not so long since I was accused on here of 'trying to drive him from the sport'

I agreed with much of what he said yesterday. On other occasions when I haven't agreed with him I have said so.

Anonymous said...

Dear Angry of
If someone came to you and said ‘here’s a stash of cash and all you have to do is lend us your name and image’ what would you do?
Perhaps Ronnie isn’t as principled as you, but if he’d asked the question ‘will me taking this money harm snooker in the future?’ I doubt very muchif he’d have received a straight answer from those running snooker at the time, whose entire business plan was based on the now and the never-never.
At least Ronnie has admitted the error of his ways, unlike some who took the cash believing their Christmases had all come at once, the kind who received payments when if it had been based on ticket sales for there matches would have ended up owing world snooker.
I also don’t see why Ronnie should be castigated for stating facts which the current Board of world snooker don’t have the bottle to address on the off chance it costs them a few votes and a holiday in China to present a £30k cheque to a winner who would probably prefer to be elsewhere.

Anton said...

I think that the WPBSA are too afraid of upsetting Ronnie O'Sullivan because he draws so many viewers in - Ronnie might not need snooker but snooker certainly needs Ronnie.

Snooker IS going downhill in terms of popularity - and barring a reversal of the tobacco sponsorship ban - which will never happen, it can only gets worse unless someone does something brave.

Anonymous said...

O'Sullivan has no right to complain about the state of the game when he played such a big role in it's demise through the rejection of altium.And why did he reject altium?Because he didn't like Ian Doyle and Stephen Hendry.The mind boggles.To be fair it's not just Ronnie,the likes of Higgins and Ebdon need to take a long hard look at themselves.Again to be fair to Higgins,I think he has realised his mistake and is trying to rectify it through world series.However Ebdon continues to sit on his backside on the WPBSA board and do nothing.Thanks a lot lads

Anonymous said...

Blah-Blah-Blah. Heard it all before, nay, sick of hearing it!

Nobody has the balls to either vote the imbeciles off/install the quality required.

Snooker players should stick to what they're good at i.e. potting balls, and leave the running of a sport to professionals.

Ian Doyle once said to me: "You cannot have the tail wagging the dog". He ain't no saint, but did he have a point? I think so, as snooker is finding out to its cost now.

Hearn (been in the game nearly 30 years) overseeing/assisting Parker (been in the game 17 years). Its the only "Dream Team" I see out there. The trouble is, they both probably have bigger, and far better fish to fry.

And, to all people associated to this game, instead of slagging off this post, either give us a beter alternative or STFU.

Geoff Brooking said...

Without the likes of Higgins and O'Sullivan snooker is a dead man walking.

Arise our saviour - Mr Barry Hearn.