From time to time, someone involved in the snooker world will contact me privately to take issue with something I have written on this blog. These conversations are usually amicable, occasionally not.
I welcome them. If you run a blog then you should be accountable for what you write.
Today, the Snooker Players Association chose not to contact me privately but publish on their website and circulate a diatribe against this piece I wrote about Paul Mount’s decision not to stage any further World Snooker events.
Therefore, I shall publically respond.
The SPA’s Les Barton wrote: “Your early comment in this article regarding the meeting between bewteen [sic] SWSA and SPA intimates that the SPA meeting played a significant part in the fall out.”
In fact, I did not. What I actually said was that the main point of conflict is with World Snooker.
The clue was when I wrote this:
“The main point of conflict is with World Snooker.”
I did reference the SPA’s letter of complaint about players having to pay for practice facilities and other issues because I had already written about them and some readers may have felt that Mount’s decision was based on his reaction to them (he did, after all, issue his own statement about the SPA’s criticisms).
So, actually, I was trying to make clear the SPA were not to blame and that Mount’s displeasure had been based on contractual issues with World Snooker, which I then laid out based on the best available evidence.
Barton states that: “You have skillfully avoided confronting the true protagonists and attempted to deflect some of the blame towards the SPA. For what reason only you and you alone know, where as we can but guess.”
Actually, he doesn’t have to guess why there is no quote from World Snooker. If he’d read the piece properly he would have known.
As I made clear, I contacted World Snooker and asked them to comment. They decided not to. That’s up to them, but it is untrue to say I had not put Mount’s points to them because I did. World Snooker’s press officer will verify this if Barton would like to check with him.
The irony of all this is that two days ago someone high up at World Snooker did contact me to question the SWSA’s reasoning, but he did not want to go on the record because he felt doing so may drag World Snooker’s other commercial partners into a public spat.
With a flourish, Barton concludes:
“We are extremely disappointed that once again someone prepared to invest in not only the top level of snooker but also supporting both youth development and charities alike finds himself a victim of the Snooker Regime which in years past your blog and publication would have objectively persued [sic] and informed the snooker world of the real story. I have to say on this occassion [sic] it is my opinion you have let them down.”
Well, that’s his opinion. Mine is that he should have read the original piece more carefully before choosing to mouth off.
To reiterate: the purpose of my story was not to criticise the SPA, or anyone else for that matter, but to try to find out the reasons for Mount’s decision.
I am not part of the ‘snooker regime.’ I am self-employed and have been for the last 15 years. This blog is a small part of what I do (and I don’t receive a penny for writing it).
Those who don’t like its contents are free not to read it.
As for the SPA, I don’t doubt that those behind it are well intentioned but they have gradually made themselves into a laughing stock: literally – people are openly laughing at them.
A few weeks ago they came up with a deal for players with a bookmaker offering a 10% refund for losing bets. In the biggest about-turn since Elton John got married, they then demanded an inquiry into the effects of gambling sponsorship on snooker players.
Is this really a body which will cogently articulate the real and pressing concerns of professional snooker players?
Do we suppose Barry Hearn is quaking in his boots at the prospect of receiving one of their communiqués?
The SPA seems to spend a great deal of time hitting out at those it perceives to be in opposition to it. In the main part these are only perceptions.
It should concentrate on persuading players that it is a credible body which can represent their interests in a professional manner.
It should also be sure of its ground in future before it starts making wild accusations.