Barry Hearn has warned snooker’s top stars to smarten up their acts as he plans the next phase of a revolution he hopes will globalise the sport.

Hearn admits he is far from impressed from the recent behaviour of some of snooker’s leading lights and says he will not stand for anyone neglecting their professional responsibilities.

The World Snooker Ltd chairman today stated that the governing body was close to signing new broadcast deals with the BBC and Eurosport and were looking at staging an extra half dozen events outside the UK.

But I suggested to him that he needs player support to transform the game’s fortunes and that some of them need a wake-up call.

“It’s true and I’ll deal with the players in a balanced way with education on one side and penalties on the other,” Hearn said.

“Punishments will be draconian because I don’t want to take prisoners. If I’m going to give as much time and commitment as I have been to the ongoing increase in tournaments and prize money, I have to expect a similar return from my top players, and some of them are not delivering.

“So we’ll be looking at our player contracts in more detail. There will be bigger penalties for entering tournaments and not turning up. There will be penalties for arriving late.

“I’ve never had all of this in darts. I’ve got 380 players in the PDC and have never had a problem. The real secret is that they’ve been educated properly. I’m afraid some of the snooker players have a bit of an, ‘oh well, it doesn’t really matter’ attitude.

“They’ve been allowed to get away with things for the last few years that I would never allow. I’ve been quite shocked that a couple of them are following that route but they have to be dealt with and I don’t care if their name is Sid Smith or Ronnie O’Sullivan. You know with me that they will be dealt with. There won’t be any tolerance whatsoever.

“For Ronnie entering tournaments and then not turning up, it’s referred to the disciplinary process and there will be harsh financial penalties written into the contracts next year. Neil Robertson turned up with ten minutes to spare at the Premier League last week. It’s a harsh note from me. It’s lack of professionalism on his part and he’s very embarrassed about it. He’ll be told in future he’ll be expected to turn up six hours before the match, not one, if he wants to play in my events in the future. Ding smashed the pack in an EPTC. That’s gone to a disciplinary.

“Dave Douglas has a range of issues to sort out, including players who didn’t turn up to the opening press conference in Shanghai, because they didn’t think it really mattered – well let’s see what Mr. Douglas has to say about that. There’s a price to pay. John Higgins has paid a price for being unprofessional in some aspects. Other players will have to as well. Going forward, you either play under my rules or you don’t play at all. It doesn’t matter who you are.

“Over the next few weeks you’ll read certain things and say, ‘blimey, he was actually telling us the truth.’ We are a professional sport and 99% of players act like professionals all the time. But snooker has been stuck in the mire, going nowhere, and there’s a certain attitude among certain players that it doesn’t really matter. They’re being educated now. Some of them are quite surprised I’m delivering the things I said I would and they need a wake-up call to be more professional.

“In other sports I’m involved in I don’t have any of this. In snooker, the contracts haven’t been tight enough and people abuse it, but they don’t abuse it with me twice. I bumped into one them who said, ‘you won’t discipline me.’ Trust me, I’d do it to my mum, and she’s dead.

“I need the top players to illustrate to the younger players the rules that exist, on etiquette. They all come from the top players. If your kid at home watches a footballer take a dive, when he’s out playing for the under 11’s, he’ll take a dive because he’s seen it on TV. That’s not good. We have to set the standards. In the 1980s, it was all built on the bowtie image and that’s one that carries a huge financial premium.

“When I was in Shanghai I couldn’t believe the red carpet treatment I got. I mean, I know I’m important but I was astonished how well I got treated. Then I’m in my hotel room in Bangkok and the phone goes. It’s the prime minister’s office asking if I’d go and see him. It shows you how big this sport is. It all comes about through the image you create And this is where the top players have a responsibility to the game.”


Redandblackblog said...

All I have to say is simply 'Well done Barry!'

Snooker Loopy said...

You go Barry!!! I like this guy and the way he thinks and acts. :-)
Wonderful article Dave (as always)!

Bryn said...

Not much to find fault with here. After all the negative implications for poor conduct are that sponsors and investors are more reluctant to invest and the press are quick to climb onto a bad story. Tidying up conduct of a very few cases will make the sport more professional and better financially supported, because sponsor's will know they will get 100% from the players. For those who still oppose Mr Hearn, the proof is simply in the money now pouring in, they only do that when they are fully confident in the sport.
This is not a case of wiping out individualism, Mr Hearn knows the value of each player and the clashes of style people come to see, but those clashes should always be on the table.

John McBride said...

Get down with your badself Barry, bring it on!

mg147 said...

Blimey!! :)

stuartfanning said...

Some fair points from Hearn, which no doubt the players concerned will take on board, as it is in their ultimate interests to do so.

However Hearn himself needs to curb his feeling of self importance. The game can survive without him but not without the players.

Anonymous said...

Previous administrations have tried to stamp out the slovenly behaviour of players but have been knocked back by anti-establishment press and managers who were not in favour at the time.
Making the issue a board room versus the players argument.
Barry is right, the average snooker professional is a prima donna and probably wouldn't like to be called average at all. They believe they are owed a living by the sport and don't need to put anything back at all, and turning up at press conferences in Bangkok gets in the way of other activities they might wish to partake in.
Obviously there are a percentage of diligent professionals who will carry out their obligations to themselves and the sport but they are in the minority.
The snooker player is a funny breed, perceived by themselves as on the same level as golfers but the truth is that they are below dart players in status nowadays.
Both snooker & golf are parlour games but the snooker players have been blinded by the success of their predecessors who were, in the main either dripping in professionalism or charisma.
More importantly they were aware that nobody owed them a living as most had worked before the game got big.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad to read this.
Some of the behaviour in EPTCs by some supposed leading players has been deplorable.
All the worse in EPTCs because the public had paid to watch
and players smashing the pack, conceding frames, not showing up, bullying younger players, was hugely disrespectful to the fans, their fellow players, the promoters and organisers and to their sport.
It is all the more credit to the likes of Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy who played in every event, gave 100% at all times both on and off the table and led by example.
I hope Hearn throws the book at them.
They behave like spoilt brats not professional sportsmen.

The Snooker Oracle said...

Excellent piece Dave. Very hard to disagree with Mr Hearn and fairly obvious who some of the players he hints at are.

Betty Logan said...

Glad to see Barry coming in on some of these guys. Ronnie's "no shows" were just incredibly ill-mannered. If he didn't want to play he should have withdrawn and notified the event organiser. I think players should perhaps have to show up half an hour or an hour before a match, ten minutes is just cutting it too close. Six hours is a bit excessive I think, but if it's in the contract then the clause should be honoured. As for Ding's pack smashing Barry should perhaps take a closer look at the root cause—it's a consequence of having this silly rule of not being able to conced a frame. I can understand why they have that rule now they have frame betting, but if you bet on a frame score then I think it's a risk you accept. As long as the player doesn't concede frames to fix a core then I think the players should be allowed to concede frames.

Redandblackblog said...

Stuart, 'However Hearn himself needs to curb his feeling of self importance. The game can survive without him but not without the players.'

The game was really struggling and heading one way without him so not sure that your comment is very accurate. Snooker really does need Barry Hearn and that's being proved in nearly everything he's done so far.

Philip said...

They sure should be allowed to concede frames Betty, but not before a few balls are potted. I've actually uploaded the video of Dings infamous behaviour to Youtube and I can assure you that he played like this all the match, he simply didnt want to be there.

Anonymous said...

3:21 PM

Hearn cant throw the book at them yet, they have done very little wrong by not turning up.

If Hearn want to treat them like professional sportsmen, then allow them 5 minutes practice before play and to pick and choose which events they play in, just like every tennis, dart and golf player is permitted to do.

The EPTC wont survive without the big names, the costs are too high to stage and nobody in Europe wants to go and watch some youngsters nobody has ever heard of.

jamie brannon said...

He won't punish O'Sullivan that hard, he needs him too much. I am not saying this is right, but he has already missed events and they may fine him something he can easily afford, but nothing that will raise him to arrive at all the PTC events.

Also, with the large increase in the snooker calendar next season, the argument about missing events is largely void unless they are absent from the showpiece events without genuine reeason.

I would be interested to know why you thought the players needed a wake-up call, as you don't seem to have named anyone specific that I can recall.

I think Ding does need to adopt a bit more fight and Ronnie should attend a few more events.

I find it a little rich from Hearn bragging about how professional the PDC is, as he let's crowds at PDC events behave like it's a moron convention.

Overall, though Barry Hearn's return is the best thing that has happened to snooker in ages.

Neal Foulds is Ladbrokes expert on the X Factor betting market! He was actually very knowledgeable, although his credibility has slightly sunk!!

Dave H said...

You don't have to play in every tournament but if you enter a tournament you should play in it.

If there's a good reason why you can't play you should notify the organisers. It's not just professionalism it's basic manners.

Certain players need a wake-up call because they've always had the power over administrators: do what we want or we'll vote you out. It's led to unprofessional behaviour from a small handful of players who owe the game, not the other way round. They can't vote Hearn out and he won't stand for unprofessional behaviour - quite rightly.

Betty Logan said...

The problem isn't missing events (at least in regards to unprofessional conduct), it's entering them and then not even showing up without even formally withdrawing. By entering an event you've entered into a contract, and other factors could hinge on those contracts such as sponsorship, ticket sales etc. Currently players are allowed to withdraw, but Ronnie wasn't even doing this, in some case he just didn't bother to turn up. It's best not to conflate the arguments between not entering events, withdrawing from events, and "no shows". The first of those should be left to the player's prerogative, the second should be left to the discretion of the WPBSA to decide whether the player had a legitimate reason for withdrawing, but the third should carry a severe penalty.

Anonymous said...

Dave, the players were encouraged to enter all 12 tournaments on an easy entry form back in August. Most of the top players who had the money and didnt want to keep entering on a weekly basis took this opportunity. They have never had to look at scheduling, the PL matches were not complete then and some of them found that they could actually do with some proper rest and practice before the main tour events.

Time will tell in the UK whether the players who have played all the PTC's and PL are fatigued or not, it wouldnt surprise me to see someone fresh win it.

Tennis and golf players are paid appearance money if the organisers want them at the minor events, and world snooker wont allow them to wait until a week or two before to commit. Golf players who dont make the cut dont get paid, the sooner they cut the prize money to the top 32 and increase it the better, as Jamie Jones got more money from lsoing first round on sunday than the 8 losing quarter finalists.

The tour cant fund mediocrity, increase the prize money for winning and cut out the early round prize money.

Anonymous said...

About time too.

jamie brannon said...

I can't argue with that, but Ronnie who is one of the players who you must be referring too does seem to notify people, but his reasons may not always be genuine.

Personally, I think Hearn won't be draconian with him as he would only get the message if he is banned from events or fined hundred of thousands pounds, which I doubt Hearn will do.

If he wants change though, it may be the only way forward, not that I particularly like touurnament bans, for what are in the right context only small indiscretions generally speaking anyway.

Overall, I think snooker players behave really well in comparison to most sports.

TazMania said...

Absolutely correct. Snooker players think they are bigger than the sport. They need a kick in the arse and wake up. True PDC players are more recognisable than Snooker players in the UK. Ronnie needs to be punished. You dont see Phil Taylor not attending equivalent PTC Events. Why should snooker players not attend events. Thats their job. You dont see british workers attending work 20/52 weeks in a year. Why should they miss events?

Anonymous said...

On a club level the better the player the more obnoxious they are! If they have ever made a hundred break they are really up themselves and always think they are better than they are. All this is magnified when they turn pro - so far up their own backsides it's unreal.
Let's hope Barry sticks to his guns

snookerfan 4711 said...

Soso. John Higgins was punished... Well *cleares throat* Dogs that bark don't bite, do they?

Anonymous said...

Two points here

1. Dave, did O'Sullivan give Hearn any reason for not turning up to the EPTC's other than the Paul Hunter Classic?

2. O'Sullivan and the other players all need a kick up the backside, they've all been allowed to take so much out of the game without giving anything back, (O'Sullivan especially has gotten away with far too much, far too often), I wasn't a big fan of Hearn's to begin with but the players are lucky he's bothering to spend time trying to turn them into proper professionals. If they want Rodney Walker back so badly they should retire and let the young kids have their time.


Anonymous said...

The point is that snooker players believe they are better than they really are and have done so over the last 15 years or so.
The only real public interest event is mid April to May Day Bank Holiday at Sheffield, all the remaining tour events are a mere channel flicker to the passing multiple sports fan in 2010.
It wasn't always like that, but as 3.17pm mentioned, these snooker players think they are Ryder Cup golfers in waiting, without the kudos which goes with the lucrative worldwide golf tours.
Many of the high ranking snooker players get involved in signing proxy votes to vote out boards who are doing very well, just because someone from their management company has told them that the promised land is only an EGM away.
This is the abject mindlessness which continually dogs the sport which was only made popular by colour television and Alex Higgins and his enemies at the time.
You either loved them or hated them but today people have so much to do elsewhere that such emotions no longer exist.
Get a grip fellas and take heed of the words of Barry Hearn rather than attempting to throw the board of directors out to feather not only your nest but to exhume the bodies of the previous incumbents who did nothing except claim their 15k for wearing a jacket & tie at board meetings.

Anonymous said...

there needs to be a link from PTC in to the Masters or other Major Event.

if you don't commit to PTC then you cant play the masters or UK something like that.

and not turn up and smash balls about like babies.

mathmo said...

They should take a leaf out of Jimmy White's example he has set throughout his career!

Similarly, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy have been exemplary.

Flashback said...

Knockout banter from Hearn.

All he has to do now is grow the Don King affro and he would be the complete article.

Anonymous said...

You just have to kick o'sullivan's arse and the rest will fall into place.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8.57 said: "There needs to be a link from PTC in to the Masters or other Major Event. If you don't commit to PTC then you cant play the masters or UK something like that. And not turn up and smash balls about like babies."

I actually think this is a great idea, and I'd even go a step further, maybe basing The Masters on the PTC Order of Merit rather than the rankings.

Perhaps the best thing would be to have a mix of the two, with the holder, world champion and anyone else in the top four getting in to The Masters (but still having to play a minimum number of PTC events) and the rest of the places filled by the PTC Order of Merit.

Betty Logan said...

They have the PTC grand final for those players who play on the PTC, so no need to hijack another premiere event. Barring the top players from the Masters is actually the dumbest idea we've had on Dave's blog for a while — no point calling it the Masters if the top players aren't guaranteed to be there. Have you noticed how all these "great" ideas always come fron anons? Too thick to write their own name...

Anonymous said...

Go Barry go!! I really applaud this man, his ambitions and expectations. However, is smashing the pack a no-go? Is it considered tampering with the scoreline as it surely hurts oneself?

Why did Ding enter if he only wanted to get out of the room, the sooner the better? I thought he was a robot not a primadonna.

Please enlighten me. Thanks.

jamie brannon said...

For once an immature comment about Ronnie makes sense.

The comment about "kicking him up the arse and the rest will fall into place" is perhaps true, as if Hearn came down heavy on the sport's biggest draw then the other players would take note.

The royal wedding is a total nonsense in regards to the press attention it's getting, it would be a joke if we miss out on the semi-final session, the Thursday plan suggested by Dave Hendon is the right way to do it.

Plus, Easter falls in the time period for the 2011 championship, so a lot of Bank Holiday double pay for the commentators!!

Anonymous said...

betty logan showing how stupid HE is, by having a go at people who dont leave a little name on their post

my name is eric johnson

that make you feel better betsy

wrt the wedding, ignore it and stick the snooker on bbc2 and red button

only for a day anyway