World Snooker this evening issued a statement so coded I wondered at first if it was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth.

As with so many things, it is really all about Ronnie O’Sullivan, even though he isn’t mentioned anywhere.

O’Sullivan apparently wrote on Weibo (a sort of Chinese twitter) that he would like to play at the Shanghai Masters as a wildcard.

World Snooker responded: “World Snooker allows for wild cards in certain events outside of the UK in order to give local players opportunity and experience in world class events and to develop talent in important markets. Wild cards are only available to amateur players from the host country or region, and they are selected in conjunction with World Snooker, the WPBSA, the National Governing Body and the Promoter of the event.

In short, O’Sullivan will not be a wildcard for the Shanghai Masters. Did anyone genuinely think he would be? It would have been an absurd situation.

Speaking of absurd, I was always told that wildcards were a strictly commercial idea, designed to attract money and interest locally. The World Snooker statement somewhat contradicts this.

In my opinion – and I’m sure many players would agree – wildcards should not be used to provide training opportunities for amateurs. They should be to produce a commercial gain for snooker. If there is no commercial gain, they should be scrapped.

Here is the answer to what has been gained commercially from the wildcards this week: nothing.

The crowds have been miniscule for wildcard matches, compared to the legions who turned out to watch Ding Junhui (and went home disappointed).

It is an outrage that Ali Carter, who just last month reached the World Championship final, was shunted round the back out of range of the TV cameras so that Zhou Yuelong could play Michael White on TV.

This is nothing against Zhou, a fine prospect at just 14. I thought his century break was marvellous and a clear sign of his potential.

But world ranking events should not be used to train Chinese players. Qualifiers have sweated blood to get through to China and are being penalised by having to play talented wildcards under far less pressure for no additional financial reward.

All this in an era we are told is supposed to be a meritocracy.

The problem is one of precedent. World Snooker was so badly run in the past that when the China Open returned to the schedule in 2005, the only way it could be paid for was to agree to wildcards.

The Chinese wanted 16. They got 16. World Snooker has since got them down to eight.

Now that the tournaments are financially underwritten by the Chinese, they can continue to call the shots.

But there is no evidence the Chinese public is interested in these matches so their worth to the tournament surely now has to be questioned.

As for O’Sullivan, he once again raised the prospect of appearance money, payable by local promoters to players such as himself.

As I’ve said before, I would have no problem with this. An independent promoter should be free to pay any player whatever he wants to play in his own tournament, as happens in sports such as tennis and golf.

World Snooker, however, were correct to turn down O’Sullivan’s request for appearance money. A governing body should treat all players equally.


Anonymous said...

no-one comes out of this smelling of roses. an increasingly grubby situation.

Anonymous said...

hes an absurd man!

CAN147 said...

Can the worth of wildcards be questioned?
There are both tangible and intangible benefits to wildcards. Can't blame the tournament sponsors wanting wildcards even if it appears there are no financial gains due to poor crowds for those matches. Case in point...Would the game of snooker be experiencing this meteoric boom in China if it weren't for a promising wildcard winning it all in the 2005 China Open?

Anonymous said...

No one seems to like the wildcards except the Chinese sponsors. Unfortunately money talks louder than the fans.

The locals obviously aren't that interested in watching them play as the arena was empty, the crowds seemed the same for all the non-Ding matches.

Ali said...

No, no, no, Ronnie!
You made your bed, now lie in it.
You're not getting in through the back door.

What happened to your 6 month break?

Anonymous said...

On and on it goes. Dave what happens if you email specific questions to WS about for instance the wildcard situation? Do you get any response? I understand Hearn is a busy man but surely someone can be put up to answer genuine and valid questions.

Daniel said...

“World Snooker allows for wild cards in certain events outside of the UK in order to give local players opportunity...."

not quite true. plenty of non-german amateurs appeared as wild cards in berlin, including craig steadman (now on the tour).

Ray said...

Definitely agree with you Dave. These wild cards are a total anathema. I don't even think Luca Brecel should have been given a 2 year wild card exemption either. Everyone should be treated the same - it should be done on merit or not at all.
Spare a thought for Michael White tonight because he's been trying for 5 years to get to a venue and he finally succeeds by winning 3 matches in Sheffield. Now he's been knocked out by a 14 year old wild card (full credit to Zhou Yuelong)but White will therefore not gain in any way. Someone explain how that's fair and equitable please.

Anonymous said...

appears someone maybe have fed you know who the info to post that as hes got loads of fans over there.

pity he wanted a 6 month break

pity hes sh*t on the overseas tournaments so many times.

but doing so on weibo will gather support.

someone must have fed him that. dont think he thought it himself.

the spotlight kid strikes again. the sooner he retires for good, the better.

hackerjack said...

Unlike most of you I think the wildcards are a good idea. They should and are generally used for local players both to generate a little local interest and also as an idea to spread the participation of the game around the world.

Without them I suspect you would see less foreign players on the tour right now and we are only going to see that impact increase as players from mainland Europe in particular can see more benefit from the situation.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Chinese should just make their tournaments open events, with maybe invites and appearance money going to the top 16/32 players on the tour. After all, these tournaments don't need to be ranking events do they? I think the arrangement benefits World Snooker more than the Chinese. That way the players in China can enter if they want and the British players can take their chances if they choose, and it could have a top 32/64 format depending on the number of invites. If these players are beating tour pros then they are obviously good enough to be there.

Anonymous said...

Wildcards play at Wimbledon.
Its not a hairbrained snooker only thing pop pickers.

Anonymous said...

I remember being very excited when Jimmy White was playing as a wildcard in the Masters a few year ago. A legend getting a wildcard is ok i.m.o. but there are so many amateurs in ranking events now, it's getting crazy.

The first match Ronnie will play after his 6 month break will be at the UK chapionship in December. He'll sign, don't worry. And it might become an interesting season then.

Anonymous said...

11-30, i am much more interested in snooker without him.

if you think he is snooker, i look forward to narrow minded people like you not tuning in once hes gone for good.

snooker will survive...and hopefully we dont get any more spotlight kids.

Anonymous said...

In 2005 Ding Junhui won the China Open as a wildcard when he was already a pro, not an amateur. And last season in Germany, some wildcards were UK players and ex-pros. So it seems to me that WSA adapts the rules to suit their purposes.


Dave, is the above statement correct?

If so, does it not contradict what the statement says now?

Anonymous said...

ok, daves not answering.

anyone else know if that is correct?

Anonymous said...

The WSA in 2005 was very Different to what it is Today so that shouldn't really matter.

Anonymous said...

218, nobody said it wasnt.

is the statement correct?

kimball said...

Hi Dave,
I am one that don't agree with taking away the wildcards.
1.We have no idea what the tv figures for White and little shrimp was, seated spectators is irrelevant.
2. Five pros survived the wildcard
round and all five won their first proper match, so they (as they said) obviously benefited from their extra match.
3. If you can,t beat a 14 year old
amateur, don't moan.
4. There is something fundamentally wrong with a sport where you can declare " that you havn't picked your cue out of its case since Sheffield" lose 1-5 and
pick up 7500 £. That goes for Robertsson too and a few more. It is very unprofessional and pretty much an insult to the organisers.
They should be fined for comments like that.It is quite a scandal!
5.The sooner Barry Hearn get a flat startingfield together the better and not a cent for 1:st round losers.
6. If you check the all round situation in Europe there are not much hope for future stars or even the game. UK runs three tournaments
+ Welsh Open with Chinese sponsors!
U21 World starts in Wuxi 14 July,
Uk + Irland but not Northern Irland
participate. Israel, Sweden, Polen
Germany,Netherlands,Belgium and France. Thats all from Europe.
7. O'Sullivan is as erattic as Bobby Fisher, the best but very strange and bad advisors.
8. I think the wildcard round was taken down to 8 players because there was not enough quality.
The whining about wildcard is odd if China want,s the tournament to be an APTC with those pricemoney, it would and then it is a Pro AM with rankingpoints matching the pricemoney.

Anonymous said...

so, the statement was just made up cos of what suits just now?

i dont care either way. im happy the spotlight kid isnt in, but id like to hear WHEN this rule was made...

Anonymous said...

appears dave doesnt know, or doesnt care enough to give a reply, or is too busy.

surprised nobody else knows (for sure) tho

Dave H said...

Ding was a professional in 2005. He should have started in the first qualifying round but his participation in the final stages was a condition of the event going ahead.

He won the event and went down the rankings. He earned no official prize money, though it was thought Chinese sponsors paid him in the end.

Anonymous said...

thanks dave!