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.


Monique said...

Certainly food for thoughts.

Regarding the PTC being more spread and played during the week I personally think it would be a good idea in particular if those events that are played without an audience. Dominic Dale in his last blog entry pointed out that those events are great but that as they are organised this season it might be difficult for players with a family to find a proper balance. Kids are at school during the week and if parents have the opportunity to have quality time with them it's during week-ends. Vey often fathers who are divorced or separated get custody of their kids over week-end days also, an for the same reason mainly.

Anonymous said...

"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."

Has anyone asked for witnesses?

Anonymous said...

All the SPA's recommendations seem quite reasonable.

kildare cueman said...

The idea of having the PTC's at weekends is to suit the players who have a job.

Professional snooker is also a job, and as such, would be facilitated in the family law courts regarding access, in the event of the child's mother being unreasonable.

I would agree with the players concerns over managers on the board. If definition is the issue, perhaps registration of managers could be introduced, with the proviso that any player without a registered manager would have to vote in person, or not at all.

The other point, about the top 16 coming in at the last 32 is a tricky issue. Its all very well to say the current 16 started at the bottom, but factors like draws, form on the day and run of the balls can be the difference between finishing 16 and 17.

A compromise here might be to adopt the English 8-ball system, where the top 8 come in at the last 32.

Players ranked 9-32 could play the winners of 33-55 versus a qualifying 24.

This way would guarantee the stars in the last 32 but the lower ranked players would only have to win a couple of matches to join them.

Overall though, while an equitable system is desirable, it has to be remembered that without fans and TV, there will be no professional game, so a balance must be found that will meet the players wonts and satisfy market demands.

James Scott said...

Great lad, Patsy. He and I go back many years and we still enjoy a good bevvy at Wembley every year (although I was ill last year and had to pass.)

He was a postie the last I heard.

Betty Logan said...

I've often thought it would be better to start the PTCs on Saturday rather than Thursday. Many amateurs have jobs, so it would be better to play the amateur leg over the weekend so they don't have to organize time off work.

Also, I don't like the idea of banning player-managers from the board — seems like you're tinkering with democracy there. It is obviously a proposal designed to keep Lee Doyle off the board, but if enough players want him to represent their interests on the board it should be their prerogative to elect him. The other players have the right to vote against him.

As for not having automatic qualification for the top 16, let's consider the logic for the moment: to maximise media coverage and TV interest and hence sponsorship you want to ensure that all the regular tournament winners are there - audiences generally are interested in and support proven winners. All the top 8 are ranking title winners so should definitely be there. There are currently 4 ranking winners ranked 9-16, making up half that tier, while there are only 4 ranking winners ranked 17-32. So it makes more sense to allow automatic qualification for the top 16, and rather than seed through 17-32 just hold over Steve Davis, Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens and Stephen Lee. That way, only four players out of the top 32 who have never won a ranker would get automatic qualification. After all, if you sideline your revenue generators too much you increase the risk of breakaway tours, a proliferation of independently organized events etc.

Anonymous said...

Monique, what about the people working at events who have the kids midweek and want them on a weekend? and those players without kids who couldnt give a monkeys that other pros have to juggle their arrangements round kids they choose to have? personally id leave them at a weekend and make them in places with general audiences....large halls etc where all tables are visible...

Anonymous said...

The Doyle family have always been the master of the en bloc vote and have recruited some fairly average players who were never going to win anything but had a vote.
When the voting process branched out to the top 64 rather than the 32 the new signings were weird and wonderful.
I need not name names as it wouldn't be fair.
What actual evidence were you looking for to prove this happened David?

Anonymous said...

Betty you are wrong. I have count 5 ranking winners ranked 9-16.

Anonymous said...

Seeding the top 16 through to the last 32 of every major event makes it impossible to have a fair ranking system . A Top 16 player winning six 1st round matches equates to a player ranked 65 - 96 having to win 30 matches ,surely that's a nonsense given the standard of snooker nowadays. Also some of the current top 16 came through when 1-32 were seeded in the same round and when the standard was alot lower than it is now. As for TV demanding the top 16 for TV stages , that does not add up as they usually only hold TV matches over for the top 3-4 players anyway. I think the PTC events have proved that there is no such thing as an 'elite' top 16 anymore .
If snooker wants to go more global it needs more foreign faces on the TV, that is alot less likely to happen when new players have to win 4 matches just for an oppurtunity to play on television.
I cannot think of another sport that protects it's top 16 players so much, you woudn't think it would have anything to do with top players managers being in positions of power over the past 25 years would you ?
One last thought, if you proposed snooker's ranking structure of the big events to let's say a sport like tennis , what do you think they would say ? I believe they would find it laughable that a player ranked 33 in the world would have to win two matches just to play a player ranked in the top 16.

Betty Logan said...

The PTC actually reinforces the idea of an elite as far as I can tell, since the pro players all start out in the first round and four of the 8 winners have come from the top 8. It means that a top 8 player is going to win every other PTC, so if that's not an elite then I don't know what is. You definitely want that core group at all your tournaments because these are the guys who are proven in front of the TV camera time and time again.

You can see why Barry Hearn refused to run snooker by committee and insisted on commercial ownership of the game. These "suggestions" just show what a tenuous grasp on the business aspect of the game that many players have, and I'm sure will be introduced to his shredder in due course.

Anonymous said...

"These "suggestions" just show what a tenuous grasp on the business aspect of the game that many players have"

maybe they have little understanding because they go on what has been explained to them by their agents and managers?

Anonymous said...

Aren't the SPA barking up the wrong tree here? I mean the proposals seem reasonable enough (it's unlikely tv is ever going to accept having the top 16 players come in at the last 64 stage of an event, but that's another discussion) but the WPBSA have no real powers anymore. The only man with any power to change things is Barry Hearn, and unless the majority of players complain, nothing will change and nor should it.

kildare cueman said...

I don't think the point of entry to tournaments is the problem.
Its the points awarded for first round losers.
Everybody should get the same points for losing their first round, and get away from the ludicrous system where one player gets more points from losing his first match than another who wins two matches in the same tournament.

Regarding protection of star players for TV, theres a fair few well known faces in the qualifiers now that would possibly be a bigger draw than most of the top 16. Think Stevens, Lee, Doherty, Davis, White, Drago, Wenbo, Trump and Day.

Anonymous said...

I think it is necessary to have the top 16 play in the round of 32. We need these players at the venue and getting further in tournaments.

Away from venues these guys can lose to anybody and a tournament without the likes of Robbo, O'Sullivan, Selby etc would be an epic fail.

Betty Logan said...

It's bit harsh that someone would only get the same points for losing to Matthew Stevens as someone who loses to Reanne Evans.

Anonymous said...

It's not rocket science to have 1-32 seeded in the same
round and have the top 16 play at all venues , you just
add an extra couple of tables to each venue . World snooker has been having two table setups with nobody
watching in big arenas for years now , perhaps they should look at how the eptc events have been run with more matches being played and more choice for the spectators .
ps The policy of seeding 1- 16 has only come about in the last 10 years or so , before that it was 1-32 33-64 etc .

Anonymous said...

I don't see how 4 out of 8 winners points to the
top 16 being elitist, in fact 10 of the 16 finalists in the ptc have been outside the top 16 and 8 of those 10 outside the top 32!

Dave H said...

How are you going to add two tables to the Crucible?

Anonymous said...

hands off the world championship

Anonymous said...

3.28- The world championships format can and should be improved.
I laugh when I see this "hands off" attitude as if it were some sort of sacred cow.
Matches are to unwieldy and confusing with sessions here and sessions there.
It needs to be modernised and shortened, at least to the extent of having matches lasting no longer than one day.

Greg P said...

You could stack them on top of each other.

Anonymous said...

anon 4.04

Why do you want to improve perfection ?

sorry but people are being idiotic on the subject of changing the WC.

what sponsor in their right mind would want to get involved with a sport that decides that their top tournament is too long .

we want more snooker and all i here from so called fans that they want less of it. unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

You could make the crucible an exception , however I like the idea of a 64 man world championship with 4 tables . You would certainly see more international faces making it more of a 'world championship' . Barry Hearn has moved the PDC world darts championship from it's traditional home to the Alexandra palace and I think that darts has benefitted from that move. Snooker has to start thinking outside the box and try to get new people interested in the game rather than listening too much to the traditionalists and anoraks involved in the game .

Anonymous said...

hands off the world championship or
shortening matches to no more than a day.
Both of you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

The World Championship is the one tournament that should never ever be messed around with. The current format is the same format that has been around ever since 1980. If it was good enough then, it's good enough now.


Betty Logan said...

The PTC shows the top 8 is an elite because 50% of the winners have come from under 10% of the tour. It's true there is more variation in the runners-up, but being a runner-up doesn't make you elite.

Anonymous said...

If the world championships final stages had 64 players in it there would be more snooker, you just need a bigger venue to fit two extra tables in ! By the way , the definition of elite is a small group that is dominant in a big society . I hardly think a 50% win ratio could be percieved as dominant !

Betty Logan said...

Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis actually had a title winning ratio of under 50% when they were in their pomp, and no-one would argue that they were elite. It's relative proportions that really define an elite: a top 8 player is 11 times more likely to win a ptc than a non top 8 player, which says it all really.

Anonymous said...

Im sick of this attitude that prevails in snooker that the world champs and the crucible are untouchable. The crucibles too small and the matches too long.
With a bigger venue hosting 4 tables the championship could be ran over 3 weeks, including qualifiers.
Everyone would then see a much wider mix of nationalities and players.
At the moment its just a glorified British championship.

Betty Logan said...

The three session format is the shortest format you can have that tests a player's matchplay capability, which as far as I'm concerned the world championship has got to do. You could possibly bump the semis and final down to three sessions and the matches will still have the same epic feel, but the idea of introducing two session matches into the format beyond the first round is absurd.

Moving away from The Crucible to a venue that can accommodate more tables would be practical since you could schedule the matches better and condense the first ten days into five days if you have four tables. Extending the time period and the number of players would be a bad idea though — the casual viewer doesn't want to watch qualifiers and his interest won't be sustained for three weeks.

Anonymous said...

Making long matches a thing of the past would be the biggest blunder ever. The slow drama snooker can provide is truly exceptional. We just had the opposite format and that too was great - but it is a completely different experience and not at all worthy to find the champion of the world.

The only thing that most people agree should change, however, is the time schedule for the final. Hardly anyone I know ever get to watch the final because of the ridiculously late finish (in Denmark and the rest of mainland Europe) on a monday night. It simply hurts snooker and ends the 17-days in paradise on a sour note.

But do not mess with the length of the matches. We have something truly unique here.

Anonymous said...

607 yjere are loads in other parts of the world where a late uk finish is still early for them

stop saying "we" are being selfish letting it finish late when its even later for you lot in europ, when it suits the other half of the world (which should be targeted as much as europe - and is, in brazil)