World Snooker has listened to reason and will stage the Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers in the Badminton Hall of the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
They will therefore be open to the ticket buying public.
Originally, the qualifiers were due to be played in the academy situated in the same building, which does not have room for spectators.
This was because it costs a considerable sum of money to hire the Badminton Hall. As it is, World Snooker will lose money staging the qualifiers there but they have done the right thing.
They received many emails from disgruntled snooker fans and the odd word of caution from a few experienced hands about the backlash that was coming their way.
It’s refreshing that they have listened to what fans want, even if it will leave them out of pocket.
I can understand the governing body not providing seating for qualifying in general. Crowds are usually small and it doesn’t make economic sense.
But the World Championship is different. As anyone who has attended will know, it’s a hugely dramatic few days as players battle to reach the Crucible.
The drama of it all makes it one of the highlights of the year, though for the players it’s more of an ordeal to be endured.
While on the subject, I’ve had a few snooker fans contact me to complain there is no streaming of the qualifiers.
The reason for this is that the deal the previous board signed with 110sporttv is binding for three years – even if the qualifiers are not actually streamed by them.
To me, this is a ridiculous situation. It would be like selling the rights of the FA Cup to ITV and them not showing a single match.
Barry Hearn has much to untangle, and I’m sure he will.
Fans want to watch snooker and should be given as much opportunity to do so as possible.
Playing the world qualifiers in front of the public is the right decision: and I would recommend to anyone going along to watch.
Note: the final round of qualifying will now be on March 12 and 13.