14.8.12

WORLD SNOOKER AND THE SWSA: WHAT WENT WRONG?

“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.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very unlike snooker players to be moaning, dear oh dear.
Regards
Dean.

Anonymous said...

Great balanced article as per normal , seems the game cannot help shooting itself in the foot !!

Anonymous said...

Good on you for trying to find out what's happened here Dave, lots of us are very interested!

Anonymous said...

£23,000 is 5% of £460,000 - with the best will in the world this is probably more than Stephen Lee will win in Prize Money across the rest of his career.

That said, I'm not sure it is for the governing body to regulate commercial agreements people have made with players.

Anonymous said...

you might want to read that bit about the 5% again

Nick Henderson said...

Its a shame. Most players prefer playing in the swsa. Sheffield is a lovely place but the facility in the eis is just awful in comparison to the swsa.

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to get a grip.

I haven't been to Gloucester but from what I saw on the live stream it is infinitely better than the boxes in Sheffield.

Maybe all this will be irrelevant if a new more lucrative sponsor is found for the World, allowing some of these issues to be cross-funded.

If however that sponsor is not forthcoming, I suspect the unrest amongst players will only grow.

Anonymous said...

Seems Hearn and co have something against Mount and co. Pulling the live streaming at a charity-benefitting event when they SURELY could have given retrospective consent even though it was already under way and now this. I stopped going to the EIS because of its limited spectator seating and had just started attending the Gloucester Academy. The extra money it is going cost World Snooker next year should be deducted from the (undoubtedly) heavy salaries of those who made these decisions. Pigs may fly!

Anonymous said...

I think what is clear, it does not matter what position snooker is in, whether it is growing or declining there will be always fights and arguments between world snooker and players and other snooker organisations. I dont think there is another sport that has this much internal friction and disharmony.

wild said...

6.23

well said its bloody ridiculous

Ray said...

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ..... here we go again! The lunatics are out of the asylum and running wild again.

Does anyone in the world of snooker know the meaning of the words DIPLOMACY and COMPROMISE? I don't think so.

To the outside world (and especially to snooker's detractors)they look like a load of spoilt kids. I really thought that things had changed under Hearn and there wouldn't be any more of this nonsense. Seems I was wrong again. You couldn't make it up.

Anonymous said...

Might not be a bad thing! Perhaps other parts of the country may host PTCs so we don't all have to keep travelling to Gloucester. Don't believe SWSA are as hard done to as they claim.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious what is happening. No-one terminates a lucrative contract because of a letter from a joke of a players union and some table cloths. As for the Stephen Lee incident then surely the county court established the debt settlement schedule rather than the WSA? The answer is simple: SWSA isn't recouping its 10k outlay on these tournaments so have run for the exit door.

Paul Mount seems to be the kind of man we want to see more of in snooker: a genuine enthusiast who has invested in the game, and to be fair, he was treated badly over the streaming of the pink ribbon event. But his statement does seem to be full of hot air: his claim of a "breakdown of trust" seems to imply Barry and the WSA have royally shafted him, but the only discernible point of contention from his statement that puts him in direct conflict with the WSA seems to be these table cloths. Such a disagreement is easily remedied: if the WSA won't cloth practise tables then don't provide practise tables. Clearly there is more to this dispute then either side is letting on, or more likely, the SWSA bit off more than it can chew and is losing money on the PTCs: welcome to the world of the PTC Paul Mount!

Anonymous said...

People involved with the SWSA will know that they make false promises to players (not just snooker) to get business and then do not deliver.

I say fair play.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I have some sympathy with the player's gripes about prize money they have to be realistic. The Prize fund for each PTC is £50k, based on the number of entries in the last PTC if they paid £200 prize money to players losing at the last 128 stage and upped the prize for players losing at the last 64 stage from £200 to £400 this would require an extra £20k a tournament. And evidently they are quite expensive to put on if you are having to re-cloth 10+ tables every time.

These tournaments attract almost no spectators, no more than a couple of thousand online viewers and very limited sponsorship - and there is no magic money tree to pay for all this. What is World Snooker to do - is it meant to run these tournaments at a huge loss or should it go back to having huge gaps in the calender...

Daniel said...

I agree with every word from Anonymous 5:48 PM

A bit of perspective is needed from all concerned.

jamie brannon said...

I tweeted Dave this comment, but would like to see the PTC events played in the same part of the venue where the world qualifiers were played, which is the badminton hall, I think.

Is there any logistical reason for this not happening?

Dave H said...

It costs money (five figures) to hire the Badminton Hall but World Snooker own the lease to the academy to it's free to use

Anonymous said...

Might not be a bad thing! Perhaps other parts of the country may host PTCs so we don't all have to keep travelling to Gloucester.

You mean like it was before it moved to the SWSA?

Anonymous said...

Don't know why the SPA asked for an email address given that they published their response to this on their website.

Without some sort of clarity about the number of tour players who are SPA members I'm not sure what mandate they actually have. I'm looking forward to them publishing their counsel's opinion on the Players Contract though!

jamie brannon said...

Thanks, I think they should do this as it would allow us to see a lot of snooker at a very reasonable price.

The UK Championship qualifiers are down for Gloucester in the most recent Snooker Scene, but would imagine they will now be played in Sheffield.

I really can't fathom the SPA'S fault with Dave's article. It doesn't seem a cogent diatribe. Almost everything about the sport seems great, but there seems to be a history in snooker of petty in-fighting.

At least from the outside it does. Snooker could be where golf is now in terms of how global it could be. It will take time, but I genuinely believe snooker can do it.

Anonymous said...

Lots of interesting points made by many responding to this.

It seems to me that those at grass roots level are the losing party, the players might get a break with a reduction in PTC events, WSA will gain by saving money, the only people left are supporters.

I do think the problem is that the SWSA are losing money staging the event. I cannot see spectators taking time off work to watch matches, perhaps a rethink on PTC would be good, perhaps a league system based around the country. Then the top four or eight go into play offs before bringing them down to TV scheduling, small clubs could also host the regional structure.

Terry Teeman said...

Hi Matt,

As you know, I've been to Gloucester a few times to cover various tournaments including Pink Ribbon & PTC's

I'd like to start by joining other contributors that have welcomed your very balanced and interesting article. In my opinion, the SWSA is an amazing venue and its run by staff who clearly love the game. There is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere there and the snooker facilities are, in my view, second to none. Coffee is nice as well - and I don't mind paying for mine!

Judd's tweet re 'jobsworths' which although I didnt see, I did hear about was in my view, outrageous. Janie has every right to expect anyone using the facilities at SWSA to treat them with respect and I can not see any reason why that would not include Judd. As regards the other stuff - moans about the tables and millionaire snooker players having to buy their own coffee - well its ridiculous. Bottom line is that when snooker players lose they moan, same as many sportsmen from many sports. Boring, predictable and about as such complaints IMO are as valid as saying the earth is square.

Then there was WSA pulling the feed on the finals of the Pink Ribbon. What can you say about that, although Judd's 'Jobsworths' comment may be more applicable here?

We've met in Gloucester a few times and we both know what a great venue it is. It will be a massive loss to the PTC tour and professional Snooker in general if Pauls decision remains unchanged and although I was saddened to learn of his decision, I can totally understand it and thats just going on stuff I do know about. Im sure there is much I do not.

Anyway, great article Matt.

Terry Teeman said...

Whoops, thought it was a different Blog owner. Sorry. ;-) I'll get me coat. Comments still stand though if you wish to publish, just substitute Dave for Matt

Sorry :-)

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