“Some serious jobsworths at Gloucester academy, back to Sheffield please,” tweeted Judd Trump at the recent PTC.
Well, Trump and others have their wish. Paul Mount, owner of the South West Snooker Academy, has made it known he will not be staging any more World Snooker events after PTC4 later this year, a decision which will disappoint many in the game, especially spectators.
His statement can be read in full here. It follows complaints by the Snooker Players Association discussed here.
This did not go down well with Mount and his team but the main point of conflict is with World Snooker.
The SWSA statement did not state specific reasons for the decision but the relationship between the two parties seems to have soured over several issues.
One is over the unlikely topic of cloths. Last season, the contract between World Snooker and the SWSA provided for the governing body to re-cloth all tables at the academy for both matches and practice. This season, practice tables were not included in the re-clothing.
Mount raises much money for breast cancer charities but professional snooker itself is not a charity so players were charged £4 an hour (one of the SPA’s criticisms) for practice facilities.
Mount understood he could retain cloths for later re-covering but these were in fact removed from the academy.
It certainly did not help the SWSA/World Snooker relationship that Mount was ordered to pull his live streaming of the Pink Ribbon charity pro-am in June due to a concern over breach of the governing body’s own streaming contract.
I understand Mount was also unhappy with the result of a recent WPBSA disciplinary hearing against Stephen Lee, a former client of his against whom Mount took out county court judgements to recover money he was owed, and at the way the result was presented.
Lee will apparently pay back the £23,000 he owes Mount by a 5% deduction from each prize money cheque, which will be a slow process.
Mount felt that Lee’s relatively lenient treatment by the disciplinary committee was in contrast to that of another of his clients, Mark Allen.
Relationships such as this often founder on what appear to be relatively minor issues but the main problem seems to have been a breakdown of goodwill and, indeed, trust.
The truth is, the snooker world has a proud tradition of kicking gift horses in the teeth, which seems to continue in this bright new era.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of this case, it cannot be good that the owner of the largest snooker facility in the country has fallen out so badly with the governing body.
For their part, World Snooker is a business and has to operate on solid business grounds, but they will lose out on £40,000 next season as a result of this.
They would doubtless contend some of Mount’s criticisms but I have so far had no response to my request for official comment, made 24 hours ago.
What it all adds up to is that, for the PTCs, it could well be back to Sheffield, where there is hardly any room for spectators and where a generally sterile atmosphere looms heavy in the air.
This will feel to many within the sport to be a backwards step.