For the many commenters wondering about how the ranking list would be presented, starter points etc...we now have an answer.

New professionals will receive 5,040 starter points, equal to the eighth placed player on the one-year list from last season not already on the tour.

Players who played on the tour in 2008/09 but not 2009/10 do not keep the points they earned in the first season.

The WPBSA has issued the first ranking list of the season WITHOUT the points for the first three tournaments of the 2008/09 campaign removed.

These will be removed at the first cut-off point in October.

The problem with this is that the list gives a misleading picture. As it stands right now, Ronnie O'Sullivan appears to be second in the rankings but, if you subtract the points that will come off in October, he is actually fourth.

This latter list is more representative of the true position - a bit like the provisional list we have been used to for years and years - and can be followed thanks to the excellent work undertaken at Pro Snooker Blog.

Perhaps the WPBSA should issue two lists: pre and post points deduction so that players and everyone else can follow the various movements.

Or maybe that would just confuse people even more.



Already that single word has raised the blood pressure of several readers.

If you are on medication, don’t read on. For the rest of you...

The early days of snooker commentary on the BBC were done by Ted Lowe, who was involved in the sport through running Leicester Square Hall in the post war years where much snooker was played.

Ted would commentate from the audience. In those days, the referee didn’t ask the spectators to turn down their earpieces, they just told Ted to shush it a bit.

This is the reason he was given the ‘whispering’ nickname that helped make him into one of the best known television voices of the 1980s.

It was Ted who commentated on Pot Black. Quite right too, it was his idea.

But when the BBC began daily live coverage of the World Championship in 1978 it was clear he would not be able to commentate on two tables simultaneously all day long.

So it was that those other BBC stalwarts, Jack Karnehm and Clive Everton, became full time members of the team.

In Clive’s case this was something of a shock. The BBC’s executive producer of the time sidled up to him in the press room on the first morning and asked him if he would be interested in doing some commentary. Clive confirmed he would and asked when he would be needed.

The producer consulted his watch and said, “in about 20 minutes.”

The BBC had some legends of the game in the experts’ chair – the roles were clearly defined back then as ‘commentator’ and ‘summariser’ – including John Pulman, John Spencer and Rex Williams.

Pulman and Williams would set sail for ITV when they came into the fold, alongside the likes of Mark Wildman and Ray Edmonds.

Dennis Taylor was also a big part of the ITV team before he was world champion. Famously, at the Yamaha Organs International he and Pulman commentated on a frame the saw the highest break equalled.

Taylor remarked that the player in question would share the prize. Pulman, a dryly amusing character with a voice as rich as velvet, replied deadpan: “Yes, Dennis, but what can you do with half an organ?”

The 80s saw snooker commentary very much being in the background, with the action taking centre stage. So it was that when Ted Lowe collapsed in the box at the Wembley Masters - and his co-commentator Williams put down his mic to send for help – not a word was uttered on air for around 15 minutes.

The BBC did not receive a single enquiry or complaint. Food very much for thought.

Times change and so does television. Sky Sports were the brash new kids on the block and their early snooker coverage was innovative and brought voices like Phil Yates and Jim Wych to the fore.

The BBC’s sports coverage changed too and former players came to be relied on much more, even in the roles traditionally occupied by journalist/broadcasters.

Taylor joined the BBC team in the early 90s, John Virgo has been there since the mid 80s and Willie Thorne has come to the fore during the last decade.

Three great characters of the game who, like all commentators, have their fans as well as their detractors.

The BBC today also use the warm and witty Terry Griffiths, always likeable Ken Doherty and Neal Foulds who many, myself included, rate very highly as an excellent analyst.

Who is to say who makes a good commentator? It’s entirely subjective.

Jim Meadowcroft once told me that he wasn’t supposed to be commentating with Lowe on the denouement of the famous Taylor/Davis final in 1985 but that the executive producer had decided he had done so well in the early part of the session that he could carry on.

Doubtless, on another day another producer would have given the gig to Spencer or Virgo.

If you look at the absolute masters of television sports commentary - I'm thinking Richie Benaud on cricket or the BBC's multi-purpose Barry Davies - it wasn't just that they knew when to speak. Just as importantly they knew when not to speak.

This came from having a solid broadcasting training. Yes, Benaud was a great cricketer but before he uttered a word of commentary for the BBC he was sent on an intensive course.

Players are frequently entertaining and incisive but Clive (magazine loyalties aside) remains the master at encapsulating the moment because he comes from a journalistic background where words count.

For example, when Stephen Hendry made his 147 at the Crucible in 2009, Clive said: “Marvellous champion, marvellous moment, one of many in a marvellous career.”

It was clear, cogent and perfectly put the break into context without recourse to a string of cliches.

Some people enjoy this approach, some don’t. Some people hate the way certain voices sound, others warm to them. Some want more talk, many want less. Some think the players in the box are out of touch, some think they are brilliant. Some turn the sound down, some enjoy (almost) every minute.

The truth is, commentators seem to raise the ire of viewers the minute they open their mouths.

It’s a job many viewers are certain they could do better themselves (not realising the technical challenges involved, not least people talking in your ear, timing remarks to go into commercial breaks and coping with all manner of hidden behind the scenes disasters).

And it’s also a job that is regarded with far greater importance than it really deserves. We all recall great matches and frames. But how many can honestly remember who was calling them?

Perhaps it’s worth reflecting that for all the many, many, many hours of snooker commentary there has been, most of it is long forgotten.

One phrase remains memorable. It was uttered by Karnehm as Cliff Thorburn stood over the last black of his 147 at the Crucible in 1983.

Karnehm merely said, “Good luck, mate.” It was perfect. It set up the drama of the moment and articulated the thoughts of all those watching.

Most viewers would agree that a commentator should add to the action with useful analysis, information or anecdote.

But nobody will ever agree to what extent the various characters behind the microphones get this right or wrong.



I’m pleased to see the World Open qualifiers have already attracted more than 500 entrants from the UK.

In recent years, participation levels in Britain have fallen, even though snooker remains a popular television sport.

Snooker clubs are not just places to go to pot balls. They are social hubs.

The smoking ban in the UK certainly hit them hard with many now closed down. The general decline of the sport’s image has also had a negative effect.

The World Open is being touted as the FA Cup of snooker as it gives 20 players the chance to take part in the pro qualifying rounds in August, with a chance to battle through to the TV stages.

This development, along with the new Players Tour Championship, also open to amateurs, may well help to reignite interest in the amateur ranks.

Snooker, like the black pudding industry, relies on a steady supply of fresh blood.

There is much competitive snooker going on that is barely reported but it serves as a training ground for stars of the future.

The champions of tomorrow need to believe that all the effort is worthwhile. They also need to have stars they can look up to.

Ronnie O’Sullivan would accept he has not always been the perfect professional but his mentoring of Joel Walker through the Rileys Future Stars scheme gives that youngster an enviable insight into the game.

Ronnie, at his best, is an inspirational person to be around. He can help improve Joel’s game but also help build confidence, such an important commodity in any sport.

It is also another link between the pro and amateur games. For too long they have existed in isolation. The fact is, it’s one game and deserves recognition at all levels.

Usually at this time of the year there is nothing happening. This year there is a sense that snooker is beginning to get back on its feet with new ideas and – crucially – more playing opportunities for players wherever they are in their careers.

The World Open is a controversial addition to the tournament calendar but what it does do is open the door of top level snooker to hundreds of hopefuls and give them a peek of what is waiting inside if they ultimately make the grade.



Mark Williams tonight defeated Stephen Maguire 4-0 to win the first Players Tour Championship title of the season, for which he earns £10,000 and 2,000 ranking points.

He tops the new order of merit in the 12-event series. The top 24 at the end of it take part in the televised grand finals for which the winner pockets £60,000.

It’s interesting that, though the tournament was played in a non-televised environment at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, where there were no crowds, two members of the top eight still reached the final, confirming why they are among the best on the world – regardless of the set up.

I’m pleased for Mark because as well as being a great player – one of the best ever – he always has the right attitude. This is one of the reasons he has won so many tournaments outside the UK: not for him moaning about having to get on a plane or, in this case, play in reduced circumstances to what he’s used to.

He merely rolls up his sleeves and gets on with it and once again he has got his reward.

Amid sweltering temperatures and away from all the hoopla surrounding the World Cup, the first tournament of the Barry Hearn era was contested by 73 professionals and 75 amateurs.

There is a large amount of goodwill on the part of the players towards these new tournaments but this was severely tested by a farcical schedule that saw play on the opening day finish not much before 3am.

It was always asking a lot to have all the best of sevens done and dusted in just 90 minutes apiece. The reality was that some matches were starting several hours after the allotted time, meaning players had to hang around and do their best to stay awake before being called to play.

Of course, matches can be over in that time and much quicker. The final only lasted 43 minutes.

This is one of the problems with snooker when it comes to scheduling. The quickest ever frame lasted three minutes, the longest 93. All the rest have been somewhere in between.

Nevertheless, it is unfair on the players to expect them to give of their best in the early hours – and then again at 10am the following day – and unfair too on the WPBSA officials running the event and of course the referees.

In early rounds, where the standard is not as high, every likelihood is that matches will generally be slower.

One of three things needs to happen for the next PTC tournament in July:

1) Reduce the length of matches in the earlier rounds to best of fives
2) Play some of the first round matches on the qualifying day
3) Play it at a venue that has more than eight tables

Without a change such as the above, the exact same thing will surely happen again.

Teething problems in new innovations such as this can be expected but are less forgivable when no action is taken to prevent them in the future.

Action is certainly needed to sort out the live scoring facility on worldsnooker.com which was once again unreliable.

It’s 41 years since we sent men to the moon but it’s apparently beyond the means of modern technology to keep a live scoreboard ticking over for longer than a couple of hours. It stopped dead today at 11.35am and did not work again.

Again, no blame should be attached to the on site officials. It’s the system that needs to be upgraded.

As there is, as yet, no web streaming this should be a priority. The turnaround in snooker’s fortunes depends as much on the fans of the sport as anyone else. You alienate them at your peril: I get more emails lamenting the live scoring problems than on any other subject.

Some spectators turned up and were disappointed to be told there were no seats available for the public. This hadn’t been made clear in advance of the tournament.

It’s worth pointing out again that when you try anything new there are going to be problems. Let us hope that they are properly addressed because the PTC remains a good idea and the fact that so many players embraced the first one proves it is a popular addition to the circuit.

It does, of course, carry ranking points but no list has been issued because a decision is still to be taken on starter points. We still don’t have a ranking points schedule for the major events.

While these things undoubtedly take due consideration so that the right decision is ultimately made, it has been nearly a month since the EGM that decided the future path of the game, the season has now started and players need to know where they stand.

Hearn’s revolution, of which the PTC is an important and welcome part, may well transform the sport but even he can’t do it alone.

His own boundless energy and enthusiasm needs to be matched by the rest of the organisation he now controls.

We’ll see by the second PTC event, starting on July 9, whether that is happening.



The first Players Tour Championship event has been marked by a 147 break from Kurt Maflin, a Londoner who has spent most of the last decade living in Norway.

Maflin won the European play-off event in Romania last month to return to the pro circuit.

This was despite an accident early this year in which he slipped on ice and broke his collar bone. Maflin was left requiring a six inch plate and seven screws in his shoulder.

His biggest break of the year, though, has come in Sheffield, although there is no prize for a maximum.


The WPBSA disciplinary committee is referring its investigation into allegations that John Higgins agreed to fix results for money to Sports Resolutions UK, the sports dispute resolution body that works with governing bodies but is independent of them.

A WPBSA statement said: "The WPBSA Disciplinary Committee has resolved to refer an investigation arising from the News of the World newspaper's report of May 2, 2010, which contained allegations against John Higgins and Pat Mooney, to a hearing board convened under the auspices of Sport Resolutions UK.

"David Douglas, head of the WPBSA's disciplinary committee, said: "Sport Resolutions deals with cases in various sports and is named in WPBSA disciplinary rules. It is completely independent of the WPBSA and we have no doubt that it will bring a fair conclusion to this matter."

One of the positive things about the new regime is their openness. It is right that the details of the investigation are kept private but at least we now know who is in charge of the disciplinary process.

This is absolutely true: under the last board I made numerous requests over a five year period to officially obtain the identity of the disciplinary committee chairman without any success. Results of disciplinary cases were not released to the media unlike in other sports - until the board finally relented last year after a sit-down meeting with members of the press.

It was typical of the needless, paranoid secrecy that marked the administration. They made Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean leader, look like a blabbermouth.

Barry Hearn told a newspaper earlier this week that it should take the independent tribunal a month to come to a decision after Douglas has presented his report, so end of July/early August is when Higgins should learn his fate.

In the meantime, he remains suspended and has not been selected for this season's Premier League.

Unlike most of the rest of the internet, this blog will not be speculating about the outcome of the case nor prejudicing it with gossip, theory and opinion based on only knowing some of the facts.

I will write about it again when the result of the investigation is known.



The World Cup is still going, Wimbledon is underway and the Open Golf Championship is yet to start but, on Sunday night, we will have the first updated ranking list of the new season.

This is unchartered territory for snooker, starting the season so early, and it will be interesting to see who has been practising and who is still rusty.

The new Players Tour Championship is a first rate concept because it gives the players what they have been asking for: more chances to play. Not only that, it is meaningful in terms of prize money and ranking points.

Barry Hearn has been unfairly characterised as an 'elitist' when, in fact, the PTC will chiefly favour the lower ranked players. Many of those who criticised him so vehemently are, needless to say, in the field.

The set up is pretty much like it is at the qualifiers where they play most of their snooker. It will be the top players who will have to adjust to alien surroundings.

For Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Williams it must feel like starting again. In 1992 they and many other hopefuls - John Higgins included - pitched up at Blackpool's Norbreck Castle Hotel for a long, long summer of snooker at the qualifiers.

The good news for them is that the PTC events are only three days long.

With no TV cameras or crowds, and given the time of year, the playing field is levelled so it wouldn't surprise me to see a player well down the rankings go a long way and perhaps even win the first event.

There are some big names missing: Steve Davis, Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry are apparently on holiday; Ali Carter is playing in an exhibition in Austria; Neil Robertson is presumably back in Australia; Ding Junhui is presumably in China.

Sadly, snooker fans cannot watch the action in Sheffield as there is no room for spectators and no streaming. Hopefully there will be live scoring at the very least.

The qualifiers start today with former Scottish Open champion David Gray playing an amateur by the name of Greg Davis, who happens to be the son of Steve.

What a chance for these amateurs, to rub shoulders with some of snooker's top stars.

What a chance for the players in general: to earn more money, rise up the rankings and play more regularly.

For the first time in many years, they really are full time professionals again.



No player has won more than two ranking titles in a single season since 2004/05 when Ronnie O’Sullivan captured the Grand Prix, Welsh Open and Irish Masters.

John Higgins had a fine run from the 2009 China Open until last season’s Welsh Open, winning two titles and reaching six successive semi-finals but this hardly counts as domination in the mode of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry at their peaks.

Davis won 12 of the 19 ranking events staged from the 1985 Grand Prix to the same tournament in 1988.

Hendry won five – yes, I did say five – successive ranking titles from the 1990 World Championship to the 1991 Mercantile Classic, part of a run of seven consecutive finals that also included his capture of the Wembley Masters.

So the question is this: will anyone dominate the new season in anything approaching the same way?

And the answer is almost certainly this: no.

The truth is, there are some very, very good players around right now but nobody who is so far in front of the rest that they can claim to be snooker’s dominant force.

Nobody is playing any better than Hendry did at his peak - not on a tournament-to-tournament basis - but there have still been plenty of performances in recent times that have enthralled.

O’Sullivan can still turn it on and play snooker that appears to have fallen from the Gods but at other times in the last couple of years he has shown clear signs of decline.

Players like Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and, of course, our new Crucible king Neil Robertson will be expected to challenge for major honours but on any given day any one of them could beat any of the others.

Throw in Mark Williams, Ali Carter, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire and you have a set of top players who are all deadly at their best but the game has become so competitive that titles are shared around more than ever.

Pound for pound, Higgins and O’Sullivan have been the two best players of the last three or four years.

Which younger player will step up and supersede them in the next couple of seasons?

Robertson is an obvious candidate because he is a proven winner. The Australian has appeared in five ranking finals and won them all.

He has what it takes to become world no.1. Hendry, Higgins, Williams and O’Sullivan have had that position tied up between them for the last 20 years.

But the days of one player dominating to the extent that Davis and Hendry did appear to be over...for now.

Who is to say someone won’t come along who is head and shoulders above everyone else?

One thing’s for sure: they’ll have to be some player.



What an exciting week it is for the group of teenagers about to embark on life on the professional circuit for the first time.

Last season’s PIOS produced a crop of young talents who are joining the main tour this season.

Jack Lisowski (19, fittingly, on Friday when the first Players Tour event kicks off) topped the secondary tour rankings.

He’ll be joined by Liam Highfield (19), Anthony McGill (19) and Kyren Wilson (18) as well as Welsh nominee Jak Jones (16).

Adam Wicheard, who is 24, will also be making his debut having come through the English qualifying route.

Adam has more reason to appreciate his chance than most having suffered a personal trauma four years ago when a tumour was found on his spine.

Surgery left him confined to hospital for six months and unable to walk for four. Indeed, he didn’t know at that point whether he’d ever walk again.

Back then, the idea of playing snooker again must have seemed remote so it’s particularly heartening to see him among the 96 players starting out this season.

Lisowski has also come back from illness having been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphona, a form of cancer, two years ago.

Jack is now fit and healthy and obviously looking forward to the pro ranks. Snooker Scene will be following him all season in our ‘On the Tour With’ feature.

These rookies must make staying on the circuit their main priority. They start at a disadvantage with no points from last season to their name (although there will surely be some form of starter points) but at least there are far more counting events now – 14 more in fact – than during last year.

Much will depend on their approach. If they go into the season thinking a load of the old stagers on the tour will be pushovers then they are about to be proved wrong.

The standard is high in the qualifiers and there are several stubborn sorts who aren’t going to let some young, attacking player see a ball if they can possibly help it.

Snooker desperately needs some fresh blood. It’s about time the old order was given a wake-up call and we started seeing a few new faces on our TV screens.

The dream for all the newcomers will be to play on television. The qualifying system is labyrinthine and loaded with pitfalls but, then again, it always has been.

If they are good enough, both in terms of talent and, just as importantly, mental attitude, they will make it eventually.

I hope the new players enjoy the season and it would be great for the game to see a few getting through to the final rounds of major events.

Over to you, lads...



Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Selby could be about to renew their rivalry in the first Players Tour event, which gets underway on Friday.

O'Sullivan and Selby will clash in the last 32 if they each win their first two matches, although Selby could have to play Ryan Day in the last 64.

Selby pulled off two dramatic victories over O'Sullivan last season, in the Wembley Masters final and in the Betfred.com World Championship quarter-finals.

O'Sullivan starts out in the last 128 against Welshman Andrew Pagett, who is back on the circuit this season having played on the main tour during the 2008/09 campaign.

Selby's opening match is against David Grace, the former European and English amateur champion.

Fans' favourite Jimmy White starts out against Gareth Green, former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens begins his bid against Accrington's Chris Norbury and Shaun Murphy faces Birmingham's Mitchell Mann.

Peter Ebdon meets Polish cueman Krzysztof Wrobel, Mark Williams will play Marc Harman and 15 year-old Luca Brecel, who won the European amateur title earlier this month, will play former Grand Prix champion Marco Fu in perhaps the last 128's most intriguing tie.

The eventual winner pockets a cheque for £10,000 and receives 2,000 ranking points.

The full draw is here.


This year's Premier League will feature Shaun Murphy, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams, Mark Selby and Marco Fu.

Murphy is defending champion and Fu won the Championship League, the qualifying event.

All the others are major tournament winners from last season.

O'Sullivan won the Shanghai Masters, Robertson the World Championship and Grand Prix, Ding the UK Championship, Selby the Wembley Masters and Williams the China Open.

John Higgins is still suspended by the WPBSA and, even though this situation may have changed by the time the League starts in September, organisers have to put tickets on sale and so have not selected him.

Stephen Hendry, who hasn't won a ranking title for five years, misses out for the first time in over 20 years.

The full list of fixtures are on the official website here.



Michael Holt, a better player than his career record suggests, compiled three centuries on the way to beating Jimmy White 6-5 in the final of the inaugural Pink Ribbon pro-am today.

World no.24 Holt led 5-2 before finally winning the decider with a run of 129, having earlier fashioned efforts of 124 and 117. White's top break in the final was 110.

Holt will now hope to take this form into the first Players Tour event on Friday. The difference here is that the ranking points on offer will add an edge of pressure, something he has felt at various times in his career.

Judging by the photo on global-snooker.com, though, he is pretty happy with his efforts - as he should be.

And it was good to see White having an extended run too.

He has been playing regularly of late through his participation in the Snooker Legends tour, where he is the star attraction.

Throughout all the ups and downs of his life and career, in which he has suffered some high profile disappointments on the table, Jimmy has never lost his love for snooker.

Equally, his many fans have never lost their love for him.

If his career were a frame of snooker he’d be on the colours by now but as long as there are balls to pot and tournaments to play in, he’ll still turn out, give his best and, win or lose, take it all on the chin.



Tomorrow sees the start of the Pink Ribbon Tournament, a large pro-am which will be the first event at the impressive new South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

It is the brainchild of Paul Mount, who manages a stable of players including Jimmy White, Barry Hawkins and Stephen Lee.

Money from entry fees, after deductions to cover the prize fund, will go breast cancer charities.

Mount’s sister died of the disease and he is dedicated to raising both money and awareness. His players all wear pink-backed waistcoats in tournaments.

The academy will host tournaments and offer practice facilities, much like at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, which has just changed its focus to be the main venue for main tour qualifiers.

Stephen Maguire, Ryan Day, Judd Trump, Michael Holt, Stuart Bingham, Nigel Bond, Dominic Dale, Ricky Walden, Tony Drago and Matthew Stevens are among the entrants with a prize fund of £10,000.

Mount told global-snooker.com: “It’s not about the money. It’s about trying to make a difference and help to develop the sport. If snooker is better as a result I will be happy.”

What a refreshing attitude and what a great way of raising funds for an all too common disease.

I wish this new project nothing but success.



Here in the UK the endless noise in the media about England goalkeeper Robert Green’s shocking howler against the USA at the World Cup has drowned out even the sound of the vuvuzelas.

“He shouldn’t have made that sort of mistake” is a commonly heard comment. Of course he shouldn’t. That’s why it’s called a mistake.

Sports people make them all the time. Why? Because they are human and humans are fallible.

In snooker, a sport played in a quiet atmosphere in which the focus is entirely on the players and where the tension grows steadily, rising until the pressure becomes almost unbearable, misses have come to define entire careers.

Willie Thorne was a technically very gifted player whose temperament clearly stopped him winning more than just his one ranking title.

Thorne had a great chance to become UK champion in 1985 when he led Steve Davis 13-7. Clearing up in the next frame, he missed the blue off its spot, a slip that would have annoyed him in the club never mind in such a prestigious tournament.

Davis won that frame and would win the match 16-14.

Jimmy White was bang in the balls in the deciding frame of his 1994 World Championship final against Stephen Hendry. After defeats in five finals, three of which were to Hendry, it looked as if finally the title would be his.

But...he snatched at a black off its spot and didn’t get another shot as Hendry coolly cleared. White never reached another Crucible final.

Rex Williams could have been world champion but for his missed blue against Alex Higgins in the deciding frame of their semi-final in the 1972 tournament.

Ken Doherty, for all his success, still cannot escape his failure to pot the final black of what would have been a 147 at the Wembley Masters final in 2000.

Mike Hallett missed the pink needing the black in addition to beat Hendry 9-2 in the 1991 Masters final and ended up losing 9-8.

Even the greats have missed balls for titles.

Steve Davis famously did so when he overcut the final black of his 1985 World Championship final against Dennis Taylor.

Stephen Hendry missed a much tougher black – a re-spotted one at that – against Mark Williams in the deciding frame of their 1998 Masters final.

The difference, though, is that Davis and Hendry carried on winning, did not have their confidence destroyed and their mistakes, though obviously disappointing, are effectively footnotes in their careers.

Others find it much more difficult to escape the feeling of what might have been.



Igor Figueiredo will become the first Brazilian to compete on the main tour this coming season after being awarded a wildcard by the WPBSA.

Figueiredo was beaten 10-8 by Alfie Burden in the final of the IBSF World amateur championship last November.

This is a great achievement for Igor who until early last year had only ever played snooker on a ten foot table with ten reds, as is common back home in Brazil.

He has been given one of the two remaining discretionary places in the gift of the game's governing body.

The other has gone to Patrick Einsle from the snooker heartland of Germany.

Einsle failed to make much impact on his debut season on the professional circuit in 2006/07 - although he was only a teenager at the time - but his wildcard is proof of the extent to which Germany is being targeted as a market to be tapped by the new regime, though he will still have to play in the qualifiers for the new German Masters.

Reanne Evans, the women's world champion, was unveiled as a wildcard choice during the Betfred.com World Championship.

There were other deserving candidates but at least some imagination, especially with regards to snooker's global and commercial reach, has been exercised.

It's in complete contrast to last year when the wildcards were merely given to the next three players on the ranking list.

Another main tour place was filled last night when Kuldesh Johal won the English play-off with a 6-4 defeat of Robbie Williams, to the dismay of headline writers the length and breadth of Britain.

Looking ahead, the 2011/12 professional circuit will still comprise 96 players and will be made up of the following:

- The top 64 in the end of season rankings

- The top eight in the Players Tour order of merit not in the top 64 in the end of season rankings

- 12 players from the Cue School, which will take place shortly after the World Championship

- The IBSF world champion, world under 21 champion, three players from Asia, two from Europe and one from each of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland



So to celebrate – if that’s the word I’m looking for – the fourth birthday of this blog, which falls tomorrow, I have undertaken a radical redesign.

Well a redesign, anyway.

Green is the colour, snooker is the game. Plus, as it’s a brave new era (and it really might be this time) it seemed right to change.

When I started this blog in 2006 the idea was to augment the monthly magazine with news, opinion and insight into the snooker world.

Since then I have rambled on at great length about most aspects of the game: the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Snooker is now entering a new phase, one we all hope will lead it to increased success.

It is my hope that this is built on a global vision. Snooker is no longer flavour of the month in the UK but there are many other worlds to conquer, many millions of people who have got into the game in more recent years or, indeed, or yet to discover it.

The omens are good. Barry Hearn is a genius at developing niche markets and packaging sport for television in ways that make it attractive. With the game’s appeal in places like Germany and China and Hearn’s considerable skills and energy we could be about to enter a new golden era.

I forgive anyone wearily shaking their heads with cynicism as they read this. I know these magical breakthroughs have come along before and never quite been realised.

But the game reached a point last year where it was obvious to just about everyone that something had to give...and now it has. The WPBSA’s power has been largely marginalised and the sport is in the hands of a benevolent dictator, thankfully one who likes snooker and understands sports promotion.

I’m sure Barry will do things I disagree with – and I’ll say so – but he has my support because snooker has been needing radical change for years and that’s what it’s going to get.

Yes, I know there are problems and I know there are challenges but there are also opportunities...to take snooker to new markets, to freshen up its image and to stamp out once and for all the truly contemptible shadow of match-fixing.

So I’ll keep blogging and hopefully both my loyal readers will keep reading. I appreciate all – OK well most – of the comments and if you have any suggestions for content, I would love to read them.

Also, if you have a snooker blog or website of your own, drop me a line at snookersceneblog@aol.com and I’ll add it to the links section on the right.



I realise yesterday's post about the rankings confused a few people so let me explain it again by using the new season calendar.

You will see the various cut off points when the list is revised. This happens three times during the coming season and once again at the end of it.

It's a two-year rolling list so players only keep the points they earned for the previous two years worth of tournaments at any given time, i.e. after this year's World Open the points earned in the 2008 Northern Ireland Trophy, Shanghai Masters and Grand Prix are taken off.

Here is the calendar for the coming season. The 20 counting tournaments are the World Championship, UK Championship, China Open, Shanghai Masters, World Open, Welsh Open, German Masters, the 12 Players Tour and European Players Tour events and the grand finals.

The full ranking points tariff breakdown is still to be decided.


17 Apr – 3 May Betfred.com World Championship Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

28-30 World Seniors Championship qualifiers Cue Club, Bradford

2-6 Rundili 2010 World Snooker Wuxi Classic Wuxi, China
25-27 Players Tour Championship 1 (PTC1) Academy

9-11 Players Tour Championship 2 (PTC2) Academy
18-25 6 Red Championship Thailand

2-5 Shanghai Masters qualifiers Academy
6-8 Players Tour Championship (PTC3) Academy
14-16 Players Tour Championship (PTC4) Academy
21-24 World Open qualifiers Academy
27-29 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 1) Germany

2 Premier League
6-12 Shanghai Masters Shanghai
16 Premier League
18-26 World Open (formerly Grand Prix) SECC, Glasgow
30 Premier League

1-3 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 2) Europe

7 Premier League
8-10 Players Tour Championship (PTC5) Academy
14 Premier League
15-17 Players Tour Championship (PTC 6) Academy
21 Premier League
22-24 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 3) Frankfurt, Germany
28 Premier League
29-31 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 4) Europe

4 Premier League
5-7 World Seniors Championship Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford
11 Premier League
12-14 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC 5) Hamm, Germany
13-20 Asian Games Guangzhou
18 Premier League
19-21 Euro Players Tour Championship (EPTC6) Halle, Germany
24 Nov – 1 Dec UK Championship qualifiers Academy
27-28 Premier League Finals Potters

4-12 UK Championship Telford Int Centre

14-17 German Masters qualifiers Academy

3-6 Championship League
9-16 The Masters Wembley Arena
24-27 Championship League
28-30 Sky Shoot Out tbc

2-6 German Masters Berlin, Germany
8-11 Welsh Open qualifiers Academy
14-20 Welsh Open Wales

24-27 China Open qualifiers Academy
28 – 3 Mar Championship League

4-15 Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers Academy
17-20 Players Tour Championship Final tbc
21-24 Championship League

28 March – 3 April China Open Beijing

16 April – 2 May Betfred.com World Snooker Championship Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
11-31 May* Qualifying School Academy



The ranking system is to receive its first major overhaul in two decades as part of Barry Hearn’s new plans for snooker.

The list will receive an official revision twice during the season rather than solely at the end of it.

This means that the field for the Masters and the players guaranteed to be at the World Championship will not necessarily be the top 16 as it stands now.

This is controversial because players have spent the last two years competing in tournaments unaware that a major change was coming.

But though some players will be aghast, many others will see it as a chance to more quickly rise up the list and have their success rewarded.

I understand that the first revision of the list will come at the conclusion of the World Open. The top 16 will therefore be seeded through to the final stages of the UK Championship and will be at the Masters.

The second revision will most likely come after the Welsh Open, which will give us the 16 players seeded through to the Crucible.

The new system should, in theory, better reflect current form. After all, the 16 players at the Masters are not the best 16 players in January, they are the best 16 players based on a two-year list which ended eight months before the Wembley event.

The old system caused stagnation in the game. How can it be right for players in the top 16 to win just one match in each event and hardly budge?

Hearn’s ethos is that the more success a player has, the more he should see the benefits.

Let’s take one at random: Tom Ford. He’s a good player and was a Crucible qualifier last season.

Imagine if Tom won the Shanghai Masters. Under the previous system, he would have to wait an entire year until the same event the following season to earn any reward.

Under the new system he would go up the rankings, possibly enough to get in the top 16 straight away.

Peter Ebdon dropped out of the top 16 after 16 years just last month. If he performs well at Shanghai and Glasgow he could be back in a matter of just months rather than having to wait a whole season.

I can understand some players being unhappy with all this. The system has barely changed at all since the early 1990s when it was decided to award thousands of points at a time (younger readers may be surprised to know that ranking event winners used to get just six points).

But it fits into Hearn’s aspiration to have players aiming high and receiving the rewards when they achieve.

And actually as it stands right now only two top 16 players – Ryan Day and Marco Fu – are outside the elite bracket on the one-year list, with Jamie Cope standing 15th and Ken Doherty 16th.

I can think of three players – Doug Mountjoy, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui – who have won the UK Championship, the biggest ranking title in the run up to the World Championship, and still had to qualify for the Crucible (Ding missed out).

Indeed, it was theoretically possible to win every title on the circuit and not be guaranteed a Crucible place.

Equally, it was possible – and it has happened – that a top 16 player can lose every match during the season and still be guaranteed a place in Sheffield.

Why should this level of protection apply to a player who is not producing the goods on the table?

And furthermore, why shouldn’t snooker try something new?

It would certainly create more media interest because it would effectively create the ‘Race for the Masters’ and the ‘Race for the Crucible.’

As with everything else in this new era, it may not be a perfect idea and it may not have the support of everyone.

But the old ranking system was like swimming through glue. The new one should at least guarantee that those who achieve on the table see the rewards - the very essence of what sport should be about.

EDIT: World Snooker have been in touch to say the list be actually be revised three times during the season, not twice. It will be after the World Open, the UK Championship and Welsh Open.



What, then, are we to make of the new World Open, tickets for which are already on sale?

Well, it’ll certainly be different to those tournaments that make up the bedrock of the circuit.

First up, I think Barry Hearn was right to scrap the Grand Prix a season early. The BBC told him they didn’t want to show it from 2011. If the World Open is popular they may take that instead and therefore not reduce their portfolio from four tournaments to three.

The Grand Prix was regarded as a big deal when it was sponsored by Rothmans and held at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading.

However, it has been moved around over the last 15 years and had several – and sometimes no – sponsors, all of which cost it its identity. Put simply, it is in the shadow of the BBC’s big three: the World Championship, UK Championship and Wembley Masters.

That said, the Grand Prix had a rich history. It was the first ranking title won by both Stephen Hendry and John Higgins, and indeed Neil Robertson, and will be missed by many.

The World Open is being billed as the FA Cup of snooker. The Grand Prix had a random draw for the last two seasons but only in three rounds. The World Open draw will be random throughout, although players will be seeded to come in at certain times (as in the FA Cup).

The 96 main tour players will be joined by 32 amateurs. 20 of these will qualify through clubs, there will be two invited women, two juniors, two former world champions and six players from around the world.

This could, in theory, mean first round matches like Alex Higgins v Luca Brecel and Maria Catalano v Tian Pengfei.

The first round chucks the 32 amateurs in with players ranked 65-96. The 32 winners then go into the second round with those ranked 33-64.

The top 32 come in at the third round stage. Most of these matches will be played at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield but 11 will be held over for TV (i.e. the ones featuring the best known players).

So far, so good. However, criticism is sure to follow about the length of matches. They are only best of five, all the way up to the final which is just best of nine.

For a tournament carrying ranking points, many will feel this is too cut-throat.

Then again, players said the same 30 years ago when best of nines became commonplace.

The reason for both is the same: television.

All snooker formats – including that of the World Championship – were invented for TV, not passed down by the snooker ancestors over centuries. As TV changes with society, so must sport. Most have. Snooker has been slow to.

Are best of fives too short? Yes, I’d say so.

Should best of nine frame finals be encouraged? No.

But do we want the BBC to show a fourth tournament or not?

The answer is an obvious yes and they are not going to broadcast one that is similar to what’s already on offer so the World Open, though not a tournament many traditionalists will necessarily relish, at least fits the bill.

The acid test will be whether audiences take to it. It could be a double-edged sword for viewers. On the one hand it’s something completely different; on the other this could be the reason for not watching.

We’ll see what they make of it at the SECC in Glasgow come September.



How many players will enter the first event of the new Players Tour later this month?

Or, to put it another way, why would any player not enter it?

Each event carries a top prize of £10,000 plus 2,000 ranking points to the winner.

It will be played on templated tables at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, not on “tables with pockets like buckets where the outcome is just a lottery,” as Mark King claimed last week. The matches will be best of seven. Most ranking event matches are only best of nine.

The PTC also provides additional playing opportunities – something the players have been asking for, quite rightly, for a long time – and the chance to qualify for the big money televised finals towards the end of the season.

To do so, players must enter a minimum of six of the 12 PTC tournaments and finish in the top 24 in the order of merit.

The first event is open to all 96 players on the main tour and any amateurs who wish to have a go. If, as seems likely, there is a surplus of amateur entries then a qualifying event will whittle the field down to 128.

The PTC is not designed to propel snooker back into the limelight. It has been devised purely for the players to do what they do best...play.

Nigel Bond told the Sheffield Star this week that Barry Hearn is “only interested in the elite.” If that was true, he would have ploughed the money being used to stage the PTC into invitation events for the very top players.

The middle and lower ranked players should be over the moon at this additional playing opportunity because it is mainly them who will benefit. No more six week gaps between matches and the chance to earn a lot of money – if they do well on the table.

Some players spoilt by years of being glad-handed around the big arenas may feel the new events are beneath them. Well, they could always sit at home doing nothing while the rest battle for the £10,000 first prize – to most of us a pretty good return for three days work.

The entry fee is £100. Players are guaranteed £200 for winning just one match.

Snooker players are supposed to play snooker. If they do it well they will be handsomely rewarded.

The game should not be – and won’t be from now on – about ‘guarantees’ and doggedly digging in to protect a ranking position.

It should be about ambition and effort. Players should aspire to climb the rankings, not just hang on grimly.

Despite the lies spread by his enemies, Hearn has already announced that the 2011/12 season will still consist of a 96-player circuit.

The PTC will play a part in this because the top eight players who don’t finish in the top 64 in the main rankings will qualify.

The model has worked well on the PDC darts circuit – also run by Hearn – where prize money has increased dramatically.

The regular match-play the PTC will give players should enable them to build up form rather than have it dwindle away in the long gaps between ranking events.

Another charge levelled at Hearn of late is that he’s “only interested in gimmicks.”

There are no gimmicks in the PTC. It’s a series of snooker tournaments in which those who do well will be nicely rewarded.

If I were a player who has spent several years feeling like a part-timer I would be grateful for the opportunity and my entry would be in the post before the ink had dried.



Shaun Murphy staged a remarkable comeback to deny Ding Junhui victory on home soil in the final of the Wuxi Classic today.

Murphy looked set for a heavy defeat when he trailed the local man 8-2 but won the last seven frames to clinch a dramatic 9-8 victory.

Ding, beaten by Murphy in the last 16 of the Betfred.com World Championship a few weeks ago, failed to pot a ball in the last two frames.

"Even at 8-2 down I never stopped believing that I could win," said Murphy, who pocketed a cheque for £20,000.

"When I got to the interval at 8-4 things were looking up and from that point the scoreboard just got better and better for me.

"Ding played well, it wasn't as if he lost it. There was one scrappy frame out of the last seven which I managed to nick, and I won all of the others well."

Murphy's recovery emulates that of Stephen Hendry in the 1991 Wembley Masters final, which he won 9-8 from 8-2 down to Mike Hallett.



Luca Brecel (pictured here with Jimmy White) has become at 15 the youngest ever winner of the European amateur title.

The teenage Belgian sensation, who won the European under 19 title last year, defeated Dutchman Roy Stolk 7-4 in today's final in Bucharest, Romania.

Brecel trailed 3-1 but a break of 120 launched his comeback and he won all but one of the remaining frames.

Brecel is too young to turn professional but will surely be accepted on to the main tour in 2011/12.

Wendy Jans retained the women's title and Darren Morgan once again captured the seniors crown.



So thankfully our attention turns to matters on table and the small matter of the start of the new season.

A number of leading players are in China for what used to be called the Jiangsu Classic, won first by Ding Junhui and then last year by Mark Allen, and is now the Rundili Wuxi Classic.

I'm glad to see the round robins have been kicked into touch and it is now straight knockout.

The tournament is guaranteed for another three years and talks are ongoing to make it into a ranking event from next season.

The format is here.

I'll post up the results when they come in.

First round:
Stephen Hendry beat Xiao Guodong 5-3
Marco Fu beat Liang Wenbo 5-2
Tian Pengfei beat Mark Selby 5-3
Ryan Day beat Yu Delu 5-4

Shaun Murphy beat Stephen Hendry 5-1
Mark Allen beat Marco Fu 5-3
Ding Junhui beat Ryan Day 5-2
Tian Pengfei beat Joe Perry 5-1

Shaun Murphy beat Mark Allen 6-1
Ding Junhui beat Tian Pengfei 6-0

Shaun Murphy beat Ding Junhui 9-8



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.


Barry Hearn has won the support of players for his plans for the future of the game by a margin of 35-29 at today's EGM.

Hearn commented: "I'm delighted by the outcome. I do not underestimate the challenges that lie ahead, but for the moment snooker is united and the future looks rosy.

"I owe the game a lot and I will make sure that I will be giving 100 per cent every day to bring it to the level at which it should be operating."

Davison said: "We congratulate Barry on securing the votes of the playing members of the WPBSA and wish them and all the stakeholders all the best of luck in the future."

World champion Neil Robertson said: “I am very excited that Barry has won the vote, and about what he can do for this sport.

“I think he can make it more attractive to people, and also deal with the integrity issues that need sorting.”

Peter Ebdon said: “I genuinely, 100 per cent, now hope that Barry takes the game forward and back to the place where it should be.”


Not for the first time the eyes of the snooker world turn to Sheffield but today we keep going three or so miles past the Crucible to the English Institute of Sport, venue for the WPBSA EGM and a kind of saloon bar for the sport's high noon.

Except it might not be quite so explosive as John Davison, who has put together a proposal to rival WPBSA chairman Barry Hearn's plans, has announced he will not be attending.

This is the latest twist in a tale so convoluted that it makes the Lost finale look like an average episode of Terry and June.

Davison is blaming Hearn for his own non-attendance. He said: "We do not feel that the board is adopting a fair process or creating a level playing field for all bids.

"I therefore cannot accept their invitation to attend. I very much want to address the players directly, something that the WPBSA board has expressly stated that I am not to do.

"I want them to have the chance to ask me the many questions I am sure that they have before making such a massive decision. I am always happy to compete - in sport or business - as long as I know that the rules are fair and being abided by."

For his part, Hearn is furious at what he sees as Davison's attempts to 'buy off' the voting membership - the top 64 - by promising them all a dividend of almost £5,000. He told The Sun: "I have a problem with the £5,000 a man to the top 64 players offer, especially when the integrity of the game has never been more important. I believe it could be against the Association's rules.

"Also, why wouldn't the whole player membership benefit and not just the 64 voting?

"The tactics being employed are not subtle and it brings into question the rest of what they are proposing."

I have gained the impression in the last few days that the tide was turning against Hearn and that he would struggle to survive.

He still might, but Davison's decision not to attend the meeting could backfire on the former Olympic shooter.

We'll see this afternoon. It would be nice to think all this could be sorted out calmly and rationally but it never has been before (see post below) so we may as well have another all out fight.

Opinions have been raging on snooker forums and in the comments sections of this blog. They have ranged from reasoned to outright insulting but I have let them all through because what is clear is that snooker fans really care about their sport and they want to vent their collective spleen.

We hear much about the players 'owning' the game. I'd argue those who pay their money to attend tournaments or watch on TV have an equal right to feel that they have some 'ownership' over snooker.

Whoever eventually emerges from this saga as the winner will have to carry the fans with them and persuade them of their vision for the sport.

Without them, the players, businessmen, TV companies and sponsors who spend so much time grasping for control of the game would have nothing whatsoever to fight for.



While Barry Hearn and John Davison prepare for snooker’s own version of Celebrity Death Match, I thought we would take a brief walk down the inglorious memory lane of votes past.

Ah, there’s nothing like the cut and thrust of reasoned, intellectual debate...and WPBSA EGMs and AGMs are usually nothing like the cut and thrust of reasoned, intellectual debate.

I recall one AGM over a decade ago that was held in a hotel in Birmingham during an old folks’ Christmas party.

After all the arguments had been made on the floor of the meeting, it was time for the powers-that-be to go and count the votes in a private room upstairs, which meant they had to take the lift.

Alas, their path to said lift was blocked by a load of pensioners doing the conga to Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody.’

Rex Williams, the then WPBSA chairman, gamely resisted joining in.

Some of the vote counts in years gone by would, to put it politely, have shamed Robert Mugabe.

There was the infamous case of a WPBSA member of staff being co-opted to the board without his knowledge. He voted in the AGM despite not attending it.

Once, an ‘independent’ scrutiniser was introduced, the only snag being that nobody knew where he actually came from. I wondered if he was one of those morbid types that turn up at funerals.

Somehow, it would have been apt.

I should stress that in recent years the electoral reform society has overseen these august occasions, although there have still been rows over proxies.

In truth there are few things there hasn’t been a row over.

There was a period in the late 1990s when there seemed to be an EGM every other week. They pretty much kept the Tickled Trout hotel in Preston in business.

The most controversial of these was in March 1998. There had been a major disagreement between Williams and Ian Doyle, the then 110sport (CueMasters at the time) chairman.

It culminated in Williams banning Doyle from all venues as well as threatening Stephen Hendry with disciplinary action for asserting – correctly – that the game was ‘poisoned from top to bottom.’ In turn, Doyle called an EGM to remove the chairman. To counter the CueMasters block vote, Williams tabled a vote to extend voting rights to the top 64 rather than the top 32.

Three wise men by the names of Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths and Dennis Taylor stepped forward to broker a peace deal between the pair. An agreement was reached that Doyle would be allowed back in and he would call off his vote to remove Williams. The absurd action against Hendry would be dropped, as would the vote on extending voting rights to the top 64.

Peace in our time?

It wasn’t even peace in our lunchtime.

The EGM went ahead. The WPBSA said this was purely for constitutional reasons but it didn’t stop them passing the voting reform with a show of hands by a spectacular margin of 4-0.

Presidents in banana republics have been elected by less dubious means.

The players had a golden chance to secure a better future for themselves and the game when John Davison stepped forward with the Altium bid in 2002.

He was promising an investment that would guarantee £6m in prize money for the circuit. The opposing bid was for no investment at all.

Needless to say, the latter bid was ultimately successful and those behind it were given the commercial rights for ten years.

Prize money was immediately reduced and their contract was torn up after only ten months.

Players consoled themselves that it was still ‘their association’ but few bothered to turn up to subsequent AGMs, some of which were more sparsely attended than a Gary Glitter comeback gig.

The truth is, players want to do one thing: play. All the politics is a rather annoying sideshow that they could frankly do without.

I’m sure many of them are heartily sick of having had their ears bent for many years by various snooker politicians promising them the earth.

If either Hearn or Davison is successful, it should bring more stability to snooker and allow the players to concentrate on their careers and leave decisions on commercial matters to those more qualified to handle them.

Ironically, though, the only way to decide this is to have another vote...


According to the Daily Mirror, Ronnie O'Sullivan has been living on a houseboat for the last week.

He told the newspaper: "In Sheffield during the World Championship I was staying near a marina and decided to get one. I spent a week sussing it all out, and even went down to Chelsea. The one I have got is like a floating apartment.

"I love it. I have had it a week, and not been home. It's very calming, and they are relatively cheap. I can chill, sit outside, watch the football and I'm out of the traffic which I can't stand.

"Being on the water appeals to me, and a bit of privacy and being away from the rat-race.

"Also it is the basic living aspect of it. I have a car but I have got rid of a lot of the luxuries I had. I have gone back to basics.

"I've probably gone off my head, haven't I? I have still got my house, and now the boat, and the kids can come and stay with me.

"I am a single parent now, and the kids are my main focus."