26.11.09

WALKER PROMISES NINE NEW RANKING EVENTS

Sir Rodney Walker, who is battling to remain WPBSA chairman, has said there will be “a minimum of 15 professional ranking tournaments, plus invitation events” played in the first year of a new World Snooker Tour.

He says these events will be ‘phased in’ next season.

World Snooker Limited has entered into a new partnership with IMG, the leading sports, entertainment and media company.

They say they will “will work closely with independent promoters worldwide in the planning of the World Snooker Tour and replicate the success of established tournaments in the UK and China.”

Walker said: “We have brought forward today’s announcement of the proposed World Snooker Tour in response to misleading, inaccurate and downright untruthful comments about the sport which have been made in the past few months. In the last five years, the sport has progressed from an uncertain financial position with a history of turmoil, to a sport with financial stability, renewed long-term worldwide broadcast contracts and new sponsorship agreements.

“Together with IMG we believe the time is now right to build on these underlying strengths to put in place a World Snooker Tour. We hope the players and promoters will recognise the opportunities of being part of this ambitious plan and help in bringing it to fruition.”


Bearing in mind there are only six ranking events currently scheduled for this season, it will mean a 150% increase if 15 – a minimum figure, remember – take place next season.

However, I welcome World Snooker’s partnership with IMG. Many will wonder why they didn’t enter into such an arrangement five, ten or even 15 years ago.

IMG are, after all, world leaders in television production and distribution, although they are no longer World Snooker’s sponsorship agents.

If snooker does – at long last – become a global sport in the manner of golf and tennis as a result of this arrangement then it will be the most significant development in the professional game since the televised circuit as we know it was established in the early 1980s.

But, interestingly, the official press release does not make any mention of the deal being off if Walker is voted out as chairman.

And World Snooker hasn’t announced a new tour, they’ve announced ‘plans’ for a new tour. They say the ‘intention’ is to put on these events, that they ‘envisage’ 15 ranking tournaments and that it’s ‘anticipated’ the events will be phased in next season.

What this tells us is that this is a plan – potentially a very good one – but I remember Walker announcing ‘plans’ for an Asian Tour of China, Thailand and Macao and only the Chinese event went ahead.

I guess time, as ever, will tell as to whether this latest ‘plan’ leads to snooker becoming the professional sport we all want to see. If it does then Walker can remain chairman forever as far as I’m concerned.

But the more pertinent question right now is this: will today’s announcement be sufficient to keep him in his job by this time next week?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap.

Monique said...

I'm not negative about this if it comes true, on the contrary, it would be great ... but I have my doubts. Especially when considering the timing of the announcement.
It's not that simple to put that into place.
Think about it, a season with some 15 ranking events plus some invitationals would be very "full". You can't do that with the current structure of qualifiers and the current number of players. Also, if it's going the way tennis is organised that means that except for a few majors the current system of making the all ranking tournaments defacto "mandatory" will go. There's no way the guys will sustain that rythm especially if it involves a lot of traveling. It asks for a hell of a lot of organisational changes, for drastic changes in the qualifying/ranking system and it will ask for cashflow as well.
I can't see a body that needs months (ans sometimes years) to run simple hearing procedures doing all this within the next 6 months...

JohnMcBrideIRE said...

This would be great indeed, but the cynic tells me this is just too coincidental to be true. How do you keep big news last this on the qt?

Did you know Dave that World Snooker were in negotiations with IMG on this?

I genuinely hope this is true, but I have my doubts.

youtubeviduploader said...

Have you seen news on 110sport.tv? Does this mean it'll also be shown in betting shops and on betting websites?

Anonymous said...

Are there no depths Rodney Walker won't stoop to? Snooker is not in a stronger position than five years ago - events are dropping like flies, most of the new sponsors have quit before their contracts have ended, players are openly complaining about the organisation....

And now he basically tries to bribe people into letting him stay as chairman with a bunch of half-baked ideas and probably-empty promises. How will they find time for 15 events and their qualifying in a single year, especially with the Premier League taking up most weeks between September and December? (Remember the farcical situation of the Bahrain event being set to clash witht he Premier League, thus excluding four top players and leaving them with no ranking points, through no fault of their own?) How will nine new events be funded, when existing events are now struggling? Which independent promotors have expressed any interest?

Anonymous said...

World Snooker is organising 7 rankers this year (7th TBC) + the masters + the 5 pro-challenge events.

If WS awarded points for all of these they would already have a tour with 13 ranking tournaments.

Anonymous said...

If World Snooker really do 15 ranking events in a year then great -but -I think it would be better run by Barry Hearn than Sir Rodney.

It's all a bit odd though. I remember reading a few months ago that WBSA/World Snooker made 10% pay cuts across all of their staff and made a number of their employees redundant. Is that right Dave?
How come all of a sudden they have the money to run all these extra tournaments -only months after the desparation of cutting costs so dramatically! What have I missed?

Anonymous said...

Walker's just trying to buy himself some time with this announcement what with the imminent EGM next week. It's a good publicity stunt to gain cheap votes from gullable voting players. But we've all heard promises like this before from him. Every player voting should give their head a shake if they even consider electing him back in.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE step forward Mr Hearn and put this freeloader out of his (and our) misery

Nick

Dave H said...

'Bribe' is too strong a word. The players still have a choice next week and, as I say above, there is no indication that Walker's exit would make any difference to the IMG deal.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this will be the nail in Hearns coffin. I wish people wouldn't look to him as some sort of messiah. Snooker doesn't need him.

Editha said...

Now the WSA have problems with sponsors and usually they want make a new tournament.
From where comes the money for this idee??
Perhups it is a clever move from Rodney Walker for the vote for him.
Mr. Walker thinks the poeple are so stupid
that they not see this ???

Anonymous said...

After the Bahrain date crush last year, many people said that Walker should be out, but then he was safely state there.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous 1:28

great news for WPBSA whoever runs it and it's gotta be better run by Hearn than Walker

Anonymous said...

I just hope this proposal includes Europe, an area ignored for too long.
By announcing this, Walker has really put his neck on the line. If it doesn't happen then even he won't be able to justify his existence.

Anonymous said...

I hope all the Rodney Walker doubters are now eating a large slice of humble pie while drafting their letters of apology. RW knows what he is doing and he will deliver - it's such a pity that this good news is met with the usual derision from people with nothing constructive to say.

jamie brannon said...

I dont want to be cynical, but has Walker ever backed up his fanciful promises? The game is not stronger looking from the outside we need more events quickly and surely if they had accepted the altium proposal the game would be in a better state.

Anonymous said...

1:40pm So you think Walker is doing a great job do you please explain where? Hopefully this spin Walker has put out will be the nail in his coffin. You just couldn't make this statement up, he must be a really worried so and so.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
This offer by Sir, really is worth casting a vote for, it really does sound convincing Dave. I didn’t see him blink once when he said it. What happened to that other firm he contracted with last week, surely they haven’t withdrawn without a “Hand out” and who brought in the pie people?

Is there a clause in Sir’s contract that he is “fireproof” or pension proof after the next signing date? Sir has been so straight with the membership over sponsors in the past that I am sure Sir and the board would offer “A Scouts Honour” and a “Dib Dib Dib in writing. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been fairly closely involved with the professional game for 13 years, I can tell everyone with absolute certainty that this is all complete guff.

As Dave says, almost five years ago they announced plans for ranking events in China, Thailand and Macau and only China happened. And that was already back on the calendar by then anyway - indeed that infamous announcement was made just after Ding had won the 2005 China Open.

In 2004 I attended a press conference at Wembley where we were told there would be a tournament in Brazil later that year.

A few years later I interviewed Rodney Walker on the day of the world final when he said the plan was to have ten ranking events within a couple of seasons. He also said that even in the very next season after the one that was just finishing, there would be an increase of at least 25% in prize money.

Somewhere in between, they released a season calendar which included ranking events in the Netherlands and Dubai.

None of these things ever happened. Instead we've gone backwards, and would have gone even further backwards had it not been for the Chinese boom which had very little to do with World Snooker. Indeed during the years when it was taking off, they dropped China from their calendar for two consecutive seasons.

All of these failures to deliver. The Million Dollar Challenge in South Africa which never happened. The ranking event in Egypt which never happened. And now, like some mad east European dictator making one last desperate bid to cling to power, they come out with this garbage about suddenly finding nine new ranking events between now and a season which begins in about nine months' time.

And not just tournaments, but tournaments which "replicate the success" of the existing ones.

They claim there have been "misleading, inaccurate and downright untruthful comments" about the sport in recent months.

What were these? Matthew Syed's entirely accurate expose on the vast quantities of money being taken out of the game by Rodney Walker? My entirely legitimate questions to Lee Doyle on the BBC's State of Snooker programme?

If any of these criticisms were "misleading, inaccurate and downright untruthful", why could Doyle offer no coherent defence to any of them when Matthew and I confronted him on the BBC programme?

In the very next sentence after their claim about people being untruthful, they make claims of:

* Financial stability (what barometer are they judging that by, apart from their usual one of what it suits them to say?

* New sponsorship agreements over the last five years (Betfred? Pukka Pies? They sponsor tournaments which already had sponsors five years ago, so how is this some great sign of progress?)

* Moving on from the turmoil of the past (as you can see, all is harmony and accord now).

They go on to say they "believe the time is now right to build".

The game has been letting vast reservoirs of potential go untapped for years and years and years and years, because of what Clive Everton regularly describes as "incompetence, mismanagement and worse".

Anyone who knows about these things can tell you about all the great work that could have been happening to advance the progress of snooker in all sorts of ways for many years now, but the people who should be doing this work have been sitting on their hands, counting their expenses and bonus payments, and picking petty fights with anyone who dares to highlight what a waste of time they are.

And now, for some reason which they don't quite make clear, suddenly "the time is now right" to start doing it. Six days before a vote which will hopefully see them booted out, a vote which might well be snooker's last chance to give itself a future.

Anyone who cares about snooker must now hope that the players, who have the final say in all of this, have enough intelligence not to fall for it.

Anonymous said...

Could 4:34PM's post be delivered to all player's involved in next week's ballot.

Anonymous said...

If Sir Rodney does deliver on his promise, Snooker Scene will actually have to fill its pages with...er...snooker!

stuartfanning said...

Sir Rodney is proving once again he knows how to manipulate the players. They are a craven lot as they have proved in the past, so this will be enough to save Sir Rodney's job.

Anonymous said...

worldsnooker.com STEVE DAVIS backs the board on new tour ! Whats going on !

Anonymous said...

5:53pm of course Rodney will deliver has he ever broken any promises before?

Anonymous said...

And now Davis has come out and backed the plans, what the hell is going on now, where does the SPA stand now???

Dave H said...

The plot doesn't so much thicken as congeal

Greg said...

I can think of a certain James Hunt quote that goes well right now, but I cant say it here.

Anonymous said...

Davis backed the plan, not the incumbent.

For what I have heard the vote will be much closer than people think, apparently there are 41 no's at the moment, over 20 of those are confirmed with slips.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Isn't Steve Davis Chairman of the SPA?

Also, where does the consultant company the WSA employed to get sponsors figure in this new deal?

All sponsors areined up then for these 'new' tournaments. Or are they being 'phased in' as well.

"It's been emotional," Mr Walker!

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

What's Jamie Brannon's take on all of this, he's the big player in the media world, his word's not mine.

Anonymous said...

Barry Hearn should throw a spanner in the works by informing the players that anyone voting for SRW will not be a wild card selection for next years Premier League. I wonder what 110 players and the likes of Ding will think then as I dont see why Mr Hearn should automatically pick them if they are not supportive of him as their chairman.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear David
I hope lad you realise that Sir cannot possible loose even if he is voted out! Sir will be able to say “I told you so”; in a few months or at the best a year and then the game as a sport will collapse.

Be honest with yourself; snooker will never survive with sponsors, the professional game needs to be subsidised and only “Bookies, the Government or the Lottery can do that.
Professional Snooker has THRIVED for twenty five years on Tobacco money, and existed for the last five years only on mere sponsorships that’s now disappeared

Snooker as a game is wonderful Dave, but only to us snooker addicts that were hood winked by the tobacco money. We actually thought we were giving value for money. The WPBSA charged only for finals or latter stages, no one questioned any snooker returns.

Sir Rodney is right about inefficient management. The WPBSA had a little rota system for many years called “Whose turn next” for chairman. The game and the books were hazy with tobacco money. Mr hey you

Jimmy McNulty said...

Hi Dave
I've been follwing debate on Snooker 606 for many years, and although there are some great posters such as:

Oneball
Moondan
Tubberlad
Kinsang
Eirebilly
Sickpotter

There are also some dojy ones like
606 Seifer
Frame
Wild
Gallant
Witz

What you make of them?

Anonymous said...

Rodney by name, and Del Boy by nature. If he can't answer these questions now...

- exactly when and where will these events take place?

- what will the prize money be, and where will it come from?

- will every pro take part?

- will there be tv coverage? If yes, name the broadcasters who've commited themselves to it.

... then he's an even bigger conman than I thought. He's done naff all to advance the game in 6 years, and now, when his job's on the line, he delivers this - but with precious few details. If the players vote for this - without getting the answers to these questions in writing first - and reject someone who's PROVED he can grow a sport that was on its knees - then they only have themselves to blame.

Better still, if Sir Rodders cares about the sport that much then he can tell the players that they can have their 15 events, and he's standing aside to let Barry Hearn run them. No-one would doubt his integrity then.

Anonymous said...

Steve Davis coming out in support. To me that speaks volumes.

What a day!

Anonymous said...

DAVE

Do you know anything about Steve Davis going on radio early tomorrow morning to counter the comments on WSA site.

Dave H said...

No I don't but I'm told we'll hear plenty about this tomorrow

Anonymous said...

I remain deeply sceptical about this announcement.
We've heard it all before and particularly when there's an election looming.
These announcements smacks of WSA taking the template that SPA had already outlined.
They're telling players what they want to hear.
Also does this grand plan open up the game for more players to participate in a world tour or just the 96 existing pros on WSA membership?
The SPA option would have enfrachised every player not just the 96.
If WSA plan does go ahead it could suck out any funds available for the nations and regions to provide events for the vast bulk of the players on this planet.
Amazing that one day after Igor did well in the IBSF Champs that Brazil is now mentioned again.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we all read it wrong.

"During the next 3 years he hopes to have 15 to 20 ore maybe more events ..."

That means to me not more than they have at the moment.

:)
´
He is a politician.

Before election they tell you what you like to hear and after the election nothing happens or it is not possible cause there is no money.

Steve said this is a great plan and he is right in doing that.

But he is intelligent enough that he knows that it is only a plan and not waht would happen.

J├╝rgen

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A Secret is wasted if not shared
Hi Dave
Thanks lad for showing my posts! You must be under pressure being both censor and doing the referee job as well.
There seems to be some confusing concerning Steve Davis the games first SPA President, maybe it was wrong of Steve to accept this “Chain of Honour” before the final vote as one “Camp” will have egg on there face.

The games creditablity will be boosted shortly with a Sir Steve or a Sir Stephen knighthood; but not both and both Scotland and England have drawn swords.

Forgetting politics and engaging facts Dave! Snookers only one Sponsored tournament I think was the big white loveable dog. Every other tournament was subsidised partly by Tobacco companies but using the innocence of sponsorship.

The people that want to run W/S should first show there OWN money up front. The game has always been a milking cow and never once has shown a profit margin. Mr hey you

Black_cat from TSF said...

Plenty of Sir Walker sycophants have emerged. Or maybe it's the same one.

I am "pleased" to notice that there is absolutely no difference between political mores. Same bombastic promises just before election time.

Hearn is not snooker's Messiah. He's not just a naughty boy, either.;) He is a brilliant businessman with the Midas touch.

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What is this guy's problem?