Maybe, just maybe, snooker’s years of self-destructive internecine infighting is finally at an end.
Barry Hearn has earned a mandate to bring his unique brand of enthusiasm and business nous to snooker.
He asked the players for their backing and they have given it. Let’s not kid ourselves, the sport is still divided pretty sharply but Hearn now deserves support. It is in everyone’s interests that he succeeds.
I agree with Stephen Hendry, who said last week: “Whoever comes out the winner at the other end, there should be a shaking of hands and none of the acrimony that has belittled snooker for so long.”
Hopefully Hendry can persuade others to abide by this commitment.
What was interesting about the campaign against Hearn – which mainly consisted of a series of anonymous email smears – was that nobody, not one person, questioned his ability to do the job.
They couldn’t because his record speaks for itself. He has been putting money into snooker since before any of the 96 players currently on the professional circuit were making a living from it.
Many disagree with the terms of his plan, taking a 51% share in World Snooker Limited, but Hearn did not want to leave himself at the mercy of various interest groups within the sport threatening to vote him out every six months.
Can he deliver? We all hope so. He will certainly now throw himself into the job.
I don’t agree with all of his proposals. Snooker should not be cheapened but its image clearly needs to change and we need to try new things...even if they don’t work.
Hearn will lead from the front but for all his cheery, down-to-earth bonhomie he is, underneath, tough as old boots and will expect the players to play their full part.
Enough of the past. It’s littered with missed opportunities, wrong turns and expensive, self indulgent arguments that have taken the sport nowhere but backwards.
Here’s to the future. May the great game of snooker rise again.