14.10.11

TROUBLE IN PARADISE

Things have changed markedly in the last year and a bit, most would say for the better.

More tournaments, global expansion and a feeling that the game is on the up have created a mood of optimism.

But you don’t have to look too far beneath the surface to find players unhappy with various aspects of their professional lives.

In short: the Barry Hearn honeymoon appears to be over.

I was in Gloucester last week for PTC7 where I spoke to a number of players, some off the record and some, like Stephen Maguire, in an interview.

Maguire, to his credit, has always spoken his mind, as he did again when I asked him for his views on the PTCs.

“I don’t enjoy them,” he said. “You play in a cubicle with no audience and no atmosphere. We play for years to try and get out of the cubicles and now we’re back in them. It’s hard to play well in that set up but you have to keep coming for the points.

“I’ve lost all respect for the ranking system. All anyone is looking at is the cut-off points and if I won’t drop down then I won’t play in a PTC.

“I feel like a bit of a prostitute, turning up for these events because I have to. Some of us got stick [from Hearn] for not entering tournaments because we wanted more time with our families. It’s up to me if I choose not to enter an event. If you don’t want to play you shouldn’t be forced into it.

“If you travel anywhere now you’re out of pocket unless you do really well.”

So what do we make of this?

A spoilt sportsman who doesn’t know how lucky he is or the heartfelt concerns of someone who feels he isn’t being treated in a manner worthy of his status?

As usual, the answer lies somewhere in between the two.

First of all, it’s important to point out that Maguire isn’t the only player who feels this way. Other top stars share his view and even some reasonable, sensible players lower down the ranking list are unhappy that they are shedding out large amounts of money with little prospect of serious return.

One described the European PTCs as “buying ranking points.” Most likely players will lose money on a trip to, say, Warsaw but can’t afford to miss out because of the points the events carry.

I think Maguire makes a good point about the cubicle set up. He’s right that players work hard to become free of that environment and to end up back there is a comedown.

Gloucester is a much, much better environment to play than Sheffield but still does not have the atmosphere of a big TV tournament.

But when Maguire talks about being ‘forced’ to play he is actually just articulating what many people feel about their jobs.

Most of you reading this now will know the feeling of waking up in the morning and really, really not wanting to go to work. But you do because you have to put food on the table. In that sense you don’t have a choice.

And snooker players, as in any other profession, will sit round with their colleagues complaining about having to do it. Go to any workplace and this is what you will find.

In fact, top snooker players who earn good money do have a choice, but not playing could be to the detriment of their ranking position, which is the trap Maguire is talking about.

A teacher cannot pick and choose what days they work. They can’t decide not to teach a particular class because they feel it’s beneath them.

The difference, though, is that teachers are not required to go to countries like China at their own expense to work.

The globalisation of snooker is a good thing for the sport and its future but it has left many players out of pocket with mounting expenses.

While it may be true to say they all have the same chance to win the top prize, it is equally true to say they are not all going to win it.

Most will bow out early and not even break even at the European PTCs, all of which increases the pressure of when they are actually playing. PTC11, due to be staged in Europe, is apparently to be held in the Badminton Hall in Sheffield, which will at least reduce expenses for British based players (i.e. the vast majority).

All that said, there is a great deal of money to be made playing snooker and when top players end up skint it is usually because of bad choices they have made, either spending money recklessly or putting their faith in shysters determined to rip them off.

This is why players desperately need independent financial guidance, ideally initiated through a structure at the WPBSA.

Maguire is not a lone voice but by no means everyone agrees with him. One lower ranked player told me that “the top players have been overpaid for years and shouldn’t be complaining.”

Another expressed astonishment that players were carping only two years after they were playing in just six or seven tournaments a year.

Shaun Murphy has said that he plays in just about everything because he wants to “create a store of memories” he can pass on to his children and grandchildren, and that he won’t do that sat at home.

Many other players are enjoying the opportunity the PTC affords and relishing the busy season in progress.

One of the problems is that many top players had it sweet when tobacco firms pumped millions into the game. For instance, Mark Williams won £270,000 – snooker’s biggest ever first prize – for becoming world champion in 2003. After local tax of 46% was withdrawn from his runners-up prize at the Australian Open he says he was left with roughly £9,000, out of which he had to pay his expenses.

It’s fair to say he wasn’t impressed and it’s easy to see why. Some players are openly saying they won’t be going to Australia next year.

And expenses are going to mount. After Christmas, running into the World Championship, there is a succession of tournaments in foreign climes.

This is all to the good in my opinion but it is vital that the structure of the tournament calendar is looked at, otherwise players will – understandably – not be playing in certain events.

At the back end of February the players are expected to go to China for the World Open, possibly on to India for a new tournament, then back to Europe for the PTC grand finals, then back out to China and then back to Britain for the World Championship. All this in the space of five or six weeks.

Other sports have, for instance, an ‘Asian swing’ so that they play a succession of events in a particular region.

This would surely be better in snooker, although of course Hearn and his team is having to largely start over again after years in which the sport drifted aimlessly.

His attitude is to get as many tournaments on as possible and, in fairness, this is what the players have asked him to do.

And players, like many other people, are motivated by financial gain. Personally I see nothing wrong with this.

But they need to be honest about it. Some of the players who skipped the Poland PTC didn’t do so to spend more time with their families: they were in China playing in an unsanctioned exhibition event.

Flying around the world is less arduous when you are being well paid for it.

Only hardcore snooker fans, in the minority, involve themselves in every aspect of tour structure and the minutiae of the circuit. Most just enjoy watching the game and are happy with the increased amount of tournaments and the opportunity to see more players.

However, some of the players who vociferously supported Hearn’s coronation are now finding that the game has become a runaway train they are finding hard to keep up with.

There is much to adjust to and so complaints are inevitable and understandable, but I think everybody has to realise that snooker is not premier league football or golf or tennis. Those sports attract vast amounts of sponsorship revenue. Snooker, which has always suffered from cultural snobbery, does not. It depends mainly on betting firms, most of whom do not pay fortunes. With the world economy how it is, sponsorship is going to be harder and harder to obtain.

Therefore not every new event is going to be like the World Championship. Major tournaments are not going to fall from the sky, replete with huge prize funds.

For this to change the sport has to be built up again, and the players are key to this. Things are not perfect – and the schedule is going to create more problems – but what is the answer? To go back to how it was before? Does anyone really want that?

Players said they wanted more tournaments. They have them. They aren’t all ideal by any means and they don’t all make financial sense, but one thing Hearn can’t be criticised for is doing what he was asked: to get events on.

Maybe the moral of the story is this: be careful what you wish for.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Barry Hearn made me stop caring about snooker. IT does not make any sense to have alot of tournaments if 90% of them are pointless, dull and players don't wanna play in them because they lack prestige.

Barry Hearn has also turned snooker into an internet sport rather than something you watch on TV. I'm sick of watching streams to follow snooker.

I'd pick the old tour structure (7-8 ranking events + 1-2 invitational with 2 year rolling rankings) than this farse anytime.

Anonymous said...

theres more tournaments on TV than before hearn aswell ok maybe not BBC But that is not Barry Hearns fault.

Ron Florax said...

Why not simply buy an apartment building in Shanghai or something, where the players can live for a 3-month space during which all the Asian and Australian events will be played. Then they'd only have to pay for the travel within Europe. They could do the same in Germany, where there's 4 tournaments now.

I agree with a lot of your points, why not cut down the top prizes and distribute them downwards, but it certainly has to be taken into account that there is a cost before there are any rewards. This is what Hearn has to deal with, and I believe is doing.

Rick said...

Will this lead to a reduction in the number of pros, in so much as that the professional game, at the moment, cannot support the number of 'professionals' in the sport.

The sponsors and the like are not there at the moment, as Hearn has seen with some last minute deals in the PDC.

Harsh reality maybe, but not everyone has all the elements needed to make a living from this sport.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 11.28, I think to say 90% of tournaments are dull are pointless is wildly over the top. And if you're sick of watching streams to follow snooker, don't watch them. Or just limit yourself to the 10% which you think are worthwhile.

There's a lot more snooker on TV now than there's ever been before, and any of the events which are streaming only, didn't exist a couple of years ago. So how exactly has Barry Hearn "turned snooker into an internet sport rather than something you watch on TV" ?

And Ron, "simply buy an apartment building in Shanghai or something" ? Apart from all the obvious flaws in that plan, have you any idea how much that would cost?

My own view is that the PTCs in England should be scrapped because I don't see what purpose they serve. The money could then be diverted into the European PTCs, making them far more financially viable for the players and giving them more prestige.

In the end, even with all the costs involved, the opportunity is there for anyone to make good money out of the game if they can become a top player.

It's the top players, the successful ones, who drive the television and sponsorship revenue which supports the game. If you're not good enough to become one of those players, maybe it's time to do something else. There's been too much of a culture in the game of players drifting along in mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

Cutting the top prizes and redistributing funds would be the single worst thing they could do. The prestige of the tournament is determined by the top prize; the game attracts potential talent because everyone who becomes a pro seriously thinks they have a crack at the big money.

I think the big mistake was taking the PTCs international. They're a cheapo tournament, so they should run them at Pontins off-season where players can get cheap accommodation. The best way to promote the sport in Europe is to run two or three 12-man invitationals. For instance, you could run an event in Europe with 50/60k prize money that people like Murphy and Selby will sign up for anyway. Give Ronnie a 10k per match appearance fee and you immediately have a high profile snooker event for under 100k.

The problem in snooker is the flat prize money structure. Tiger gets huge appearance fees for invitationals that the other players don't get, time to do it in snooker with Ronnie. Ronnie's good for another five years at most, so use the man's talent and pay for it.

Monique said...

Yes players were asking for more tournaments, but I'm not sure they wanted to go from 6 to 27 in less than 2 seasons.
It's always highlighted that the global prize money has gone up by about 50%. But the number of tournaments has gone up by 350% . What isn't highlighted neither is that a lot of expenses that were covered by WSA aren't anymore, that traveling costs have exploded and that the prize money that is put forward is what the players get before taxes are taken off of it. Mark Williams complains about Australia are perfectly to the point.
What should be assessed - seriously assessed - is how many players today are off their pockets and how many can really make a decent living out of what has become a full time job and one that keeps them away from their families for a significant part of the week-ends. One that doesn't leave them much time to play exhibitions or manage a club which was how many coped before.
Because at the end of the day the players are the game's more valuable asset. If they can't afford the expenses they will go, they will be forced to because neither them nor their families live on thin air. You can't seriously build a global sport with a dozen of exponents. And you can't expect youngsters to take the sport and be supported by their parents into their endeavour if there is only a tiny chance that they are able to make a decent living out of it.
IMO it has gone too far too fast without the actual resources to support the growth pace (and with the existing resources not always used optimally neither)
The way the calendar is structured, the number and schedule of the most remote events - those with the higher cost for WSA and the players - should be assessed seriously. Barry Hearn needs to communicate better about the opportunities and expectations in order to work with the players, not impose on them, because he needs them as much as they need him.. And he should LISTEN ... not every complain is justified, but not every complain is "moaning" neither.

Anonymous said...

A very provocative and interesting piece Dave.

I'm friendly with quite a few middle ranking snooker players and also a couple of lower to middle ranked golfers. In my experience, the contrast in outlook between the two sets of sportsmen could not be greater.

The European golf tour is really the global tour. It stretches from Australasia to Asia, to Africa and across all of Europe. Each and every week from February to November, lower ranked players have to travel long distances, often with connecting flights and often sharing hotel rooms to keep costs down. They are either away from their homes and families for weeks at a time on the 'swing' events or home for a day a week if they are lucky on the shorter haul euro events.

The golfers I know do not like the travel, do not like living out of suitcases and do not like being away from their families. But they do it and don't whinge about it and especially not in public. Yes, in golf the potential rewards are greater, but so are the potential losses. It costs around 100k a year just to stay on tour, and yet before every event they know half of them will not win a penny.

The snooker players, in contrast seem obsessed by the downside of a full calendar, whereas the actual financial risk is comparable, 'lose less to win less'. The simple point to be made is that if you are good, you will make money. If you are not good then you are taking a chance. If the players don't like this then they can always try and find alternative employment.

I appreciate that playing in booths in front of one man and a dog is not the Crucible on finals night, but Martin Kaymer was doing the equivalent in Kazakhstan four years ago. And even today the top golfers who make millions occasionally end up in some outpost having to go through the motions for two days having just made a cut.

It also seems that most of the complaints are coming from the British snooker lads. If they pause for a moment and think what the likes of Song, Chuang, Wenbo, Pengfei are having to do just to play, then they might realise how lucky they are.

Sport is not all glitz and glamour. That has to be earned and more importantly, continue to be earned.

All power to Barry for me.

John A

Anonymous said...

There is definitely a case for reducing the number of PTCs – especially in the UK. It is obvious that Hearn wanted to replicate the structure of the Darts PDPA tour (where players seem to be happy to turn out for events with a top prize of €10,000). What Hearn didn’t take into account before doing this was:

i) The PDPA tour wasn’t introduced until there was a decent base of major tournaments paying decent prize money – you only have to look at the order of merit for the PDC to see that there is much much more prize money available. That applies to the “boom areas” as well (if snooker really is a “boom” sport in China then I don’t understand why the prize money is so poor - top prize in the Shanghai Masters snooker is £60k, top prize in the Shanghai Masters tennis is US$600k).

If the top players were earning well from maintaining their ranking they might not be so concerned about the lack of prize money in the PTCs?;

ii) PDPA tournaments can be dealt with inside a couple of days (matches are shorter and you can easily have 20 games running at the same time) so player's expenses are going to be much lower. Also they can be held pretty much anywhere if a hall or function room can be booked for a couple of days. 20 dartboards, stands and oches probably fit in the back of a Luton Van, whereas the cost of setting up championship tables is so high that this will never be possible for PTCs in the UK. This means Sheffield & Gloucester (the only two places with a set up of 8 Star tables) are pretty much the only places a PTC will ever be held. And frankly it is ridiculous for any sport to hold most of its ranking tournaments in two fairly unfashionable English cities, with half of them taking place behind closed doors).

That aside, my main criticism of the PTCs is that the points structure means it is still virtually impossible for new players to break through (we are only just into October, and it is already almost a certainty that all the new players on this year’s tour will be relegated at the end of the season).

This is the opposite of what was meant to happen – in time it will mean that only players who have a sponsor to cover their expenses will be able to play on the main tour (I think this is the case for a lot of the lower ranked players in the PDC).

Anonymous said...

And what has Stephen Maguire ever contributed to the sport of snooker?
Answers on a postcard.

Z said...

This article made me laugh. The trip to Warsaw is SO expensive ? Have You seen price of the tickets ? Do You know Poland is in Europe ? "Ordinary" people can afford it, players can't ?
Laughable !
I hate when players complain. Isn't it great to have a job that is a hobby?
They want to complain ? Make them work in a coal mine ! See what they would say after hours of hard work under ground !

NewsBrain said...

A really interesting blog.

I think the idea of homesickness is utterly laughable. If these guys were given £100k appearance money they would go whereever, whenever.

However, I was not aware of the expenses issue and that seems totally legtimate to me. You cannot expect any top sports star to regularly lose money on competitions.

BUT

The easy thing is to create more invitational events where top players are guaranteed to make a tidy sum while promoters get the stars they want.

Clearly the WSA cannot sanction these events but it could help behind the scenes.

The question is whether the money could be raised without the WSA.

Whlst I do have a little sympathy, ultimately you have Mark Williams moaning because he did not make enough money from playing snooker in Australia. Putting it that way, suddenly we see how ludicroous these claims are.

People like Williams don't care about the game and I am glad that is public.

In the future, as dave says, there will be an Asian leg, opportunities for exhibitions and a European leg with yet more opportunities.

Mark is a two time world champion but nobody wants to see him in an exhibition because he is so miserable and dull.

I am sure BH can respond and help but ultimately I see us going back to the dire times of yesteryear with the vast majority pros struggling to even pay the rent.

There has got to be sacrifice to make snooker global and prosperous. As usual, players just too thick to see it.

Anonymous said...

MONIQUE

Does it really matter what the players thought was a number of tournaments worth getting.

fact is they wanted barry hearn to put on more tournaments that was the number 1 priority of getting him in was hes delivered on his promise.

fact is they wanted more events in their back garden inbetween kicking a ball in the park with their kids.

thats just naive and foolish of course Barry would look for more POTENTIAL Wealth and Potential is the Key Word Rome was not Built in a Day.

Anonymous said...

"In the future, as dave says, there will be an Asian leg, opportunities for exhibitions and a European leg with yet more opportunities. "
____________________________________

but how would that help with spending time with family and homesicness if you away for say 2 months on a asian leg.

these players just want a quick fit and to hell with future generations.

i get the expenses issue but we are talking here about players that last season earned over £100,000 just out of intrest how many people on this blog earn that ?

if they cant help the sport grow get bigger and ultimatly get more money in ....just who will ?

Alan Craig said...

The player reaction isn’t surprising and it was only a matter of time. They shouldn’t be criticised for it. However it’s no bad thing and is only a result of too much to soon.

Every one, including die hard fans, will have to get used to players picking and choosing as the game goes global.

We don’t see Andy Murray and Federer playing in every tennis event

The structure of the ranking system and tournaments will also have to change to reflect players’ choices and targets, and for me that is the most important aspect if the game does indeed go global.

As a consequence the top players may also have to bite the bullet as they may have to play in an event right at the start, just like tennis events. It will be difficult to have UK qualifiers for ranking events all over the world.

World Snooker have to get rid of the “based in the UK” image for it all to eventually work

The structure of the tour may also have to change so that all ranking events can cope with the entry level. The structure of the tour should also guarantee a minimum earning level for all pro players on the tour to allow them to cover their expenses and earn a crust.

World Snooker also need a definitive, cost effective and workable “pathway to success” from juniors to pro level, from NGB to Main Tour. The cost of entry and expense for young players in their rookie year is horrendous.

Get that into place and you won’t hear any players moaning about anything.

At the moment it’s a hard slog promoting a professional snooker career to kids

There still a lot of work to be done

Sonny said...

"Whlst I do have a little sympathy, ultimately you have Mark Williams moaning because he did not make enough money from playing snooker in Australia. Putting it that way, suddenly we see how ludicroous these claims are.

People like Williams don't care about the game and I am glad that is public.

Mark is a two time world champion but nobody wants to see him in an exhibition because he is so miserable and dull. "

Well that was nicely balanced and fair!

Marks point is that he reached the final of the ranking event in Australia, and actually after tax, flights and accomodation came back with less than £6000 I think the story goes. If that's what it costs to reach the final then how many players who had a good run in the tournament ended up worse off than if they'd stayed at home? That's the point!

Anonymous said...

Dave please try and corner Hearn for a proper interview so you can put all these points and suggestions directly to him. Otherwise this is just one sided chit chat.

jamie brannon said...

This is a fantastic article. In a way, you should have saved it for the magazine!

I notice you're critical of Nadal's decision not to play Queens because of tax laws. Does Ding have this issue I wonder.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Barry Hearn increase the prize money in the current tournaments, and get BBC and ITV to show more events? After that he should get into property development and build luxurious hotels near all the venues they are going to play and let the players stay there free. Make them family size rooms though and he should offer free tuition so the players can bring their kids along. And they shouldn't have to pay their expenses, Barry Hearn should fly them over on a private jet. After that is sorted he needs to get Australia to change its tax laws; if this isn't possible then he will have to tell the sponsor to pay twice as much to cover the exorbitant taxes.

Janie Watkins said...

One huge benefit of the new Barry Hearn era is that the players can speak out openly, whether to praise or moan, without fear of being disciplined.

I think there is a case to drop no. of PTCs to 10 or even 8. half in the uk, the other split between Europe and Asia.

Apart from the pros it is worth mentioning that the PTCs now provide a great apprenticeship opportunity for the young amateurs.
They can play in good conditions, against top players and maybe find out, before it's too late, whether they could potentially become a pro. Otherwise they can return to being an amateur player and get a job.

and talking of amateurs. Get Well soon to Jak Jones, who broke his elbow last night. Jak has been doing very well on the PTCs but will now have to miss Killarney.

Anonymous said...

IMO most of the top 16 would rather go back to having fewer tournaments because they were overpaid and they had four months off per year .
The ptcs are bad for them for 3 main reasons.
1. They don't get paid for losing .
2. They come in at round one , the last 128, not round 5 , the last 32 in main ranking events .
3. They are playing in cubicles where there are no tv cameras , meaning no nervy opponents not used to them .
It's about time snooker got away from 'the elite top 16 ' attitude as only a handful of them put bums on seats and are essential to sponsors anyway .
I'm all for allowing o' Sullivan sponsors appearance money as he is the big draw in any tournament as long as he tries.
To take up on Moniques point , the main reason that the lower ranked players struggle so much with prize money is because of how it has been distributed in the past . 4 years ago over a 2 year period the old board of world snooker put £650,000 of World snookers money into the main tour prize fund . Barely £60,000 of this money made it to the last 48 round or lower , hardly surprising when you look at who was on the board at the time . This bordered on being corrupt IMO .
As a result of this a top 16 players average earnings went up from £130,000 to over £170,000
Top 32 went from £30,000 to £55,000 .
Needless to say everyone else's prize money stayed virtually the same.
Here are the average earnings for players last season excluding the premier & championship leagues which are mostly for the top 16 players and would add £24,000 to their average earnings .
1 - 16 £162,000
1 - 32 £56,000
33-48 £32,000
49-64 £19,500
65-96 £8500
You may draw your own conclusions from all of this but surely it wouldn't do any harm to put a little bit more of the prize money down the bottom end .
Especially considering who was involved in slicing the cake up in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Dave inyour artical you sat the ptc finals are in Europe are they not in Dublin Ireland like last year???

I am to as a fan getting dissapointed with snooker I want to see a proper tournament on tv..I do enjoy the ptcs but i think there should be more prize money..

Im also upset to see the uk championships changed to best of 11..I thought Barry said he wouldnt touch the majors???

TWO YEARS AGO I read on snooker forum davidsons proposals for 10 ranking events and now im thinking snooker would have been better of..but the question is would he have been able to deliver??

Anonymous said...

Hearn should halve the PTC's. It's all very well having more tourneys but it's almost every week (in fact it weekends mostly). Also lower the PTC ranking points so that players CAN decline to enter safe in the knowledge that they won't lose out that much.

Trouble with Hearn is that he listens to the players but doesn't do what they want anymore.

Neal Clague said...

I worked in the game for four years. I said it then, I'll say it now: there is FAR too many Pros.

It is THAT simple ...

Anonymous said...

PTC snooker is a disgraceful introduction to the sport. Asking multiple world champions like ROS, MJW, SGH and JH to play in front of no-one in a cubicle for ten bob is demeaning. What other sport would force its "stars" into playing these joke events?

Janie - why should professional snooker players have to play amateurs? Surely professional players shouldn't be part of any apprenticeship opportunity especially as there reward for winning will be pennies.

Anonymous said...

The debate here, like the one prosnookerblog had, is very interesting. The main point for me is thst you can not have a sport where very few can make a good living. So getting more money in is the primary goal as well as scrapping a good part of the PTCs - and restoring the longer matches in the UK Championship.

We demand longer matches.

Anonymous said...

Here's my cut on it.

Ok ,PTC's drawback is 2 things..
1.expensive, most players lose money thru the year and
2.weekend away from family.

Solutions? get cheaper accomodation laid on for players, with such big groups must be a way to to this. Have the UK PTC's on mid week, players dont miss out family as much. Keep euro PTC at weekend for spectator revenue.

IMHO players shouldn't moan about playin in cubicle with no one watching sometimes...surely its as good as or better than a prcatise down to club?

Get the PTC's cost down and tell players to shut up and look at it as potential free money for practise.

Anonymous said...

I can see both sides of the argument here. The number of PTC'S and the way they are structured isn't quite right-the prize money is too low, the ranking points are too high (oddly enough except the grand finals were the winner gets only 3ooo ranking points and a £7o,ooo first prize. Get rid of the meaningless Sheffield PTC's or move them to Gloucester so they actually feel like proper tournaments.
I do feel sorry for lower ranked pros, one of which I spoke too wondered what the point was of flying all the way round the world, paying for flights and accomodation for a tournament in which the top prize turned out to be £4o,ooo
However players like Williams and Maguire get no sympathy from me. Williams has earned £4 million from the game and his complaints about the Aussie Open prize money are a bit much. Maguire has made nearly £2 million from the game and it is these two, along with the other top players that people pay good money to see.
I think Dave said next season's calendar will be even more congested so I don't see a solution any time soon...

Anonymous said...

9.48
So you think it would be a good idea to reduce tour numbers when you are trying to go more global with snooker ? That would be commercial suicide ! If anything we need more overseas players getting exposure not less .

147 said...

I cant understand why the Irish masters is not back on the tour schedule Im sure it would be very well supported.

NewsBrain said...

None of the rebuttals have stirred me in any way.

You get to go to Australia and play snooker. If you end up a little out of pocket, see it as a neccessary sacrifice for a better future and bear in mind some people never go anywhere their whole lives.

kildare cueman said...

I feel the points difference between the largest and smallest tournament is too small.

The absolute majors, ie, the world, the UK, and maybe a long match UK style event in China or Germany, should carry significantly more points than the regular rankers, (which should all carry the same tariff).

The PTCs could then be divided into two categories, the televised ones with audiences with double the prizemoney, and the Sheffield ones, in which the points available would be half that of the televised EPTC.

There would then be a situation in which the top players would have the option of skipping a few tournaments, leaving the minor ones free for the lower ranked pros, and even the likes of Hendry and Ebdon, who would have the CHOICE of trying to pick up some points/match practise.

Having watched the final of the Poland EPTC, it was just like watching the final of any tournament. The players were trying as hard as if it was a world final, there was a good crowd and Eurosport coverage. Although Im not a fan of either player, the tension made it good viewing.
Its just a shame that the winner received just 10k.

The answer to the current dilemma may be to index link ranking points with prizemoney, but the problem with this is there may be a Chinese millionaire who sponsors a one frame tournament with a shot clock that could end up offering more points than the world championships.

There is also the situation where some of todays top players have been spoilt with the levels of pre tobacco-ban prizemoney.

Perhaps the top players in 5 years will have no such compunction and will be thrilled to make a living travelling the world to play the game they love(as players on the nine ball tour currently are for a fraction of snooker players rewards).

Ironically, had most of todays players not made it as a pro, they would probably be spending a small fortune playing as an amateur. For trophies. And glory. And mostly, for the love of the game.

Betty Logan said...

The problem with creating a situation where players can "skip" events is that sponsors aren't prepared to put money into an event unless they are likely to get the top players. This is why the PTCs are overvalued, so the top players participate and bring income into the game. If it weren't important to have the top players involved they probably wouldn't even offer ranking points; it's a catch-22. And if they could double the money for some events they probably would have. The PTC has been an interesting experiment, but obviously the WSA needs to figure out a way to increase the prize money and lower expenses, which is easier said than done.

One way would be to have the PTC double up as a qualification leg for the main tournaments. They could put the qualifier money into the PTC to increase the prize money, and it would cut down the number of visits to Sheffield effectively halving expenses. As an example, all the players who make the last 16 of PTC 10 (the last PTC before the UK) would automatically qualify for the UK, along with the top 16 seeds. Any spare places (in cases where players double qualify) could be topped up using the PTC order of merit. So there you go: more PTC prize money, lower expenses and more free time. You could probably justify the large quota of ranking points better too if it carried the qualifier points as well. I mean, you've got to admit it's kind of wacky to hold a tournament in cubicles at Sheffield, and then have the players to come back a week later and play cubicle qualifiers, so just remove some of the redundancy.

Snooker is going through a transition period so there are bound to be teething problems, I don't see it as anything more than that though. The timing doesn't help, with us being stuck in the mother of all recessions, but there's not much anyone can do about that.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I find that snooker players moaning about all the travelling and the expenses is a little bit out of sync.

Not 2 years ago the same players were complaining about how much time there was in between the Shanghai Masters and the UK Champs (iirc 2 or 3 months). Hearn's taken over, delivered on his promises (more tournaments, more prize money, etc) and now they complain about that!?

Comparing it to tennis or golf only goes as a little distance indeed since both sports have much larger audiences, thus more revenue.

BUT, before a player in any sport can make a living out of it, he/she will have to spend quite some cash (either personal or sponsored) to get to where they should be or want to be.

I've known a few tennis players who thought they were good enough. They had to travel all around the world, pay for stuff on their own as well and spend years trying to break into the elite top-100. All of them (unfortunately for them) failed to make it to the big time.

Before you can earn money you'll have to invest.

Pete Williams said...

Ron Florax makes a very good point, I don't think it is about the volume of tournaments but more about how these events are structured. If you could have an 'Asian' Leg of the circuit then players expenses would be cut dramatically. The second key is to generate more sponsorship, something I am sure World Snooker are doing everything in their power to drive.

Betty Logan said...

Don't know if you're aware of this Dave, but here are Ronnie's views on the issue:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/snooker/15360768.stm

Anonymous said...

thanks for that betsy.

well said ron, even if you werent the first big name to speak out, you at least have done so.