2011 will feature more televised snooker than we’ve seen in a decade with an increased number of tournaments and a greater global reach for the sport.
Territories long since discarded will be revisited with a ranking event in Germany and the World Cup in Thailand.
There will be the first professional event ever staged in Brazil, a revamped Welsh Open, a One-Frame Shootout and much, much more.
2010 was in many ways a year of transition as Barry Hearn took over the reins of power at World Snooker Ltd. In 2011 we will see his influence come to the fore.
He says he is about to sign new broadcast deals with the BBC and Eurosport to screen the major events in the years to come.
There is a feeling of a new start after years in which the game went backwards but it’s a tribute to snooker, and in particular the top players, that the game has survived in relatively good health.
I’ve no doubt I won’t agree with every decision Hearn makes but he deserves support. He has the contacts, the influence and, above all, the skill to take the game forward.
He respects the traditional aspects of snooker – which is why the majors remain unchanged – but has the imagination to come up with different formats and try and stir up interest where it was previously lacking.
Snooker can’t rely on the ‘if we build it they will come’ principle. It’s a sport that is no longer fashionable to many but fashions come and go and it can have its time again.
The UK will always be the game’s traditional home but its future lies in markets far way, in Asia, continental Europe and elsewhere.
The recent IBSF World Amateur Championship featured players from over 40 countries. That tells you the interest that exists across the globe and this must now be harnessed.
I feel enthusiastic about the year ahead. On table I have no doubt it will be as exciting as ever. Off table it is, for once, secure.
Snooker in 2011? Bring it on!