The Snooker Players Association made a number of recommendations to the WPBSA at a meeting held in Sheffield last week.
The SPA is now headed by Patsy Fagan, the inaugural UK champion, who seems to me to be motivated by the right reasons.
Fagan was a player for many years and now coaches. He doesn’t have to spend his time involved with SPA business.
Among the points put to WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson was that a number of players would prefer the PTCs to be more spread out through the season and for some of them to be played during the week rather than at weekends.
The tournament calendar is largely determined by TV but the WPBSA gave an undertaking to space the events out more next season.
The SPA reported that most players approved of the new ranking system but that a number would prefer more events where the top 16 were not seeded through to the last 32.
Again, this is largely down to TV. If a broadcaster begins its coverage in the last 32, they want the top names guaranteed to be in that round rather than having to pre-qualify.
The SPA put forward a proposal to ban player managers from sitting on the WPBSA board, saying “managers have an obligation to act in the best interests possible for their players at all times. Should a player manager be appointed onto the board of the WPBSA, decisions that he makes could be beneficial to his players which could in turn be detrimental to other players.”
The problem with this is that in snooker there is no proper licensing of managers. I could hook onto a player and call myself his manager, so defining who exactly is a manager and whether that would then disqualify them from holding a board position is not straightforward.
There are two management groups in snooker with a large stable of players – 110sport and On Q Promotions – but no actual evidence that their clients vote en bloc.
However, 110sport’s Lee Doyle is among those standing for election at December’s WPBSA AGM and it is not unreasonable to assume he will ask his clients for support.
The SPA also wants full voting rights extended from the top 64 in the rankings to all 96 players.
I’m all for the SPA as a voice for players but the tail must not wag the dog. Snooker, like any sport, depends on its biggest names to attract broadcasters, sponsors and audiences.
The lower rankers ganging up on the top players and attempting to artificially ‘level’ the playing field would be against the game’s wider interests.
The playing field is level enough as it is. Every player currently in the top 16 started at the bottom. They are at the top now because they are the best players.
Interestingly, with regards to the recently aborted EGM the SPA said: “We were informed by certain players, who had put their names to these resolutions, that they were not fully aware of what they were signing and agreeing to.”
This would appear to provide further evidence that players should stay out of politics if they did not even properly read what they were signing.
It does not seem to have been discussed but the first thing I would change is the rule that you only need 10% of the voting membership to call an EGM. This amounts to around seven players.
If you made it 33% (roughly 23 players) it would mean that EGMs were only called on issues where there was a genuine strong feeling among players, giving them some actual legitimacy.