18.7.12

GLOUCESTER CALLS

The Players Tour Championship was part of Barry Hearn’s plan to get the players back doing what they said they wanted to do: play.

Now in its third year, the first UK PTC begins today with the amateur rounds before the professionals enter on Friday.

The British PTCs were not a laugh-a-minute affair for players hanging around waiting for spare tables in Sheffield until past the midnight hour but they will surely go down better at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

There are more tables at the SWSA than in Sheffield and also room for spectators, which should guarantee a better atmosphere, particularly in the main arena.

If I were a youngster mad keen on snooker I would want to go along and watch. What a great chance to see big names in action as well as rising stars.

Liveworldsnooker.tv and affiliated betting websites offer coverage, with commentary on the final day.

European PTCs, which are televised, tend to be won by regular tournament winners. The UK ones have been won by players a little further down the rankings.

It’s a chance for someone to win £10,000, plus ranking points and a huge boost of confidence.

Meanwhile, Hearn’s Matchroom organisation is this week celebrating its 30th birthday. I trust Barry hasn’t got sentimental and given anyone the day off.

It was a stroke of luck that one day a young ginger-haired introvert called Steve Davis walked into one of Hearn’s snooker clubs, but he would have been successful in some sphere or other in any case.

Hearn is a shrewd businessman with his finger on the pulse of what the general public wants, largely because he has never lost the common touch.

But his main asset is his charisma. When he walks into a room he owns it. He has built a remarkable sporting empire, finding niches and spotting openings long before anyone else.

Poker, pool, fishing, ten pin bowling...all have made him money. His stewardship of the PDC has seen darts reach new heights and, now in his 60s, he has come back to snooker in a big way, throwing his energies into revitalising the circuit.

He has attracted criticism from some. Not everyone likes the way he talks but Hearn has talked the talk and also walked the walk. Most of his critics have not.

Hearn has done it with the loyal support of his staff, hard workers but always courteous and good fun.

He and Davis made each other rich. There was one major hiccup when Stormseal, who Hearn brought in to sponsor the UK Championship when he promoted it, went bust and he had to cover the prize fund himself.

But since then Matchroom has gone from strength to strength and Hearn doesn’t seem to have lost any of his enthusiasm or his capacity for hard work.

He is an ideas man. They don’t all work but it’s better than having no ideas at all.

Snooker once distrusted Hearn and feared he was getting too big for his boots. He became disillusioned and went off to boxing and other sporting realms.

How times change. The game badly needed his return to give it a kick-start. He has done that but the job isn’t complete.

He said he had a five-year plan. We are starting year three. It’s amazing how many people can’t grasp this and want everything to be perfect immediately.

The UK PTCs have been scaled back, sensibly, and funds put into other events.

The circuit is busier than it has ever been. That in itself is a fact worth celebrating.

Eventually, I suspect the UK PTCs will be reduced further and probably scrapped altogether if there are enough bigger tournaments to fill the gaps.

In the meantime, good luck to everyone at the PTC this week.

26 comments:

wild said...

it would be a shame if PTC in Britain was scraped altogether it Gives opportunities for Amateur Players to pit their game against a top player.

Anonymous said...

I missed the BBC documentary on him and had trouble watching it abroad- found an earlier mid 90s documentary which wasn't a hatchet job but less positive than the BBC show which I did eventually watch. Was interested to see Ian Doyle and Dennis Taylor accuse him of landing Taylor with £200k tax bill. Stuff along same lines about Hearn and Neal Foulds in Clive Everton's last book. Open to correction but think Hearn v Collins in Irish High Court doesn't paint him in good light. That said he's still standing and 110 sport is gone albeit Ian Doyle wasn't in charge at time

Can147 said...

I'm still shocked at how little snooker players earn compared to other sportsmen. Andy Murray who has yet to win a Grand Slam earns more in one year's prize money than what Stephen Hendry has won in his entire career. Earning differences between sports are expected but this is quite a disparaging gap. I occupy a mid-level management role in the financial sector and my compensation is comparable to the top 20 players...certainly not the top 8! My point is tons of people can do my job but I think snooker players possess a unique skill and hopefully they will be rewarded more for their special talents. That's why I applaud Hearn and those who support his vision. Expand the game worldwide and put a stop to the ever present "closed" shop mentality nonsense. Snooker will never be as big as tennis or golf but hopefully one day snooker professionals will not have to resort to competing for rent money.

Anonymous said...

Yeah if you take the American sports out of the equation you have football, tennis and golf as the big three. Snooker will never top football, and will always lag tennis and golf which have the American market. However, given its growing appeal in China and Europe there is no reason why it couldn't overtake cricket and rugby, and could conceivably have Formula One level success eventually. Could make the top 5 sports in Europe one day. This is why Barry got back into the game. His sports are basically small potatoes, and darts is never going to become a major worldwide sport but snooker does have that potential down the road.

Anonymous said...

1. BH is doing good things, but snooker will never become a worldwide mainstream sport like tennis or football.

2. Only 3 or 4 new players have entered the top 16 each year, for the past 15 years. Since the introduction of the ranking-cut-offs, this hasn't changed.

3. There is a paradox in wanting a '128 all players equal first round' point of view and wanting to generate more money, without the popular players being present at events. Tough one to solve, but as I said, BH is doing good things and indeed it is only year 3 of 5.

Anonymous said...

7.44

but even after the 5 years up it will take a few years after that to really see the improvements hes put in place work to potential.

its a very long haul and everyone has to be patient.

Andre_147 said...

5:49

Spot on there Can147. Could not agree more, of course there will always be major differences in how much players from certain sports earn when compared to each other, but like you said there really shouldn't be that much of a gap. And of course snooker is not the worst case, if we look at swimming and especially athletics for instance we easily notice that the difference is very huge.
Sponsors are the main responsibles for this, because of course they will invest more in sports which atratct bigger audiences, and not the contrary.

Ron Florax said...

One of the main issues is that the now legendary players like Higgins, Hendry, Davis, O'Sullivan, Williams etc. Don't yet have any replacements waiting in the wings. Needing the top players is one thing, but the top players should also change every so many years.

NewsFoxSports said...

The stat about new players is the worry and that might be based on dramatic falls in participation in the UK. Hopefully Asian/European success can help.

Anonymous said...

Needing the top players is one thing, but the top players should also change every so many years.
___________________________________

exactly

snooker should revolve and today top players is tomorrows hasbeen.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure we're all disappointed that Long Wang fell at the first hurdle.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie is god but it might be time to quote Nietsche.

Higgo and Willio are have beens.

Robo and Judo will rule.

Not saying we need robots or that snooker should become as big as judo (or tennis or whatever lame sport) .. Snooker is snooker!

Anonymous said...

Is there really a "Long Wang" on the circuit? Just wait until the tabloid press get a hold of that (figuratively speaking of course).

Anonymous said...

Anyone googling for images of Long Wang is advised to turn on the safe search function first...

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave, do you know if Darryn Walker the former UK junior champion was the same Darryn Walker who was tried under the obscenties act for writing a story about torturing and murdering Girls Aloud?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Ronnie is god
6:52 PM
_____________________

hed struggle to spell God

Dave H said...

No, Darryn Walker the snooker player was from Wolverhampton I think.

Anonymous said...

And obviously anyone from Wolverhampton is beyond reproach.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Barry Hearn try to offer Stephen Hendry a wildcard for the Masters in January...what a great way to tempt him out of retirement for a one off!

Anonymous said...

Personally I like how Hendry finish his career. It was moments of brilliance at the Crucible that defined his career so it was poetic that he finsihed with one. It was like fate was letting him know he had made the right decision to go.

Anonymous said...

You could have a good point there 12.46pm...never thought about that.

Anonymous said...

Dave...what do you think about Hendry being offered a wildcard for the Masters? Do you think it would be a good thing to do?

Dave H said...

Wouldn't want to see it personally. His was a dignified retirement and coming back so soon would look odd. Also, as he hasn't been playing not much could be expected of him.

Anonymous said...

When does the Masters qualifying tournament start and is it still in Malvern this year?

Kenn Fong said...

Dave, I was watching in San Francisco. I enjoyed your commentary on the final.

What a splendid Snooker Valhalla Paul has built there in Gloucester! Everything looked spacious and comfortable, not like Sheffield. I felt claustrophobic watching the players in their cramped shoe boxes. Sometimes when the director cut to an establishing shot at Sheffield I had the feeling I was watching a row of lab rats waiting for their turn at the maze.

What a completely different look and feel to the matches at SWSA. At Sheffield, you could see players have to scrunch against the table to avoid bumping into the ref or camera operators as they circled. There plenty of room to maneuver in SWSA.

From what I heard and read, Janie and Paul and their colleagues pulled off a wonderful week for the players and media. It must have been terrific to have had a table-side seat there, because the spectators were so close. The conditions were so good it makes me want to save my pennies and attend an event at SWSA next season.

Speaking of the spectators, Dave, I find it a shame that there were so few people watching during the first part of the week. This seems very typical at every event. I don't know why it happens, but couldn't WS and some sponsor partner to let a group of well-deserving students and seniors have a block of tickets for some token amount? People don't respect things when they're free, so you'd have to charge something.

Does it not make sense for WS to build the sport this way? Perhaps a player who has a later match could come in and do a meet and greet or perhaps you or one of your colleagues could come in for a few minutes and talk about the players, tell a joke or two, and answer questions. A smile, some photos on their mobiles, a few stories, and it would make their day.

Finally, would you pass along my kudos to your director, who did a splendid job, even though all of us missed the replay machine. Your director's timing was excellent; cutting away to tell the story with the reaction from the opponent or spectators, then back to the table. This kind of TV is all about rhythm, and either you've got it or you don't.

Blind Man said...

In australia the football players all go to schools and run clinics etc. Then the kids play a match at half time. Could they put juniors on at some stage during major comps so people get interested in them progressing and watching them grow?? Not just all of a sudden find trump or jones or brecel?? I have always wondered what dings brother dong was up too