The WPBSA has written to its membership (the players) to openly question the credibility of the Snooker Players Association and ascertain how many players feel this body should be representing them.
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson has acted after concern as to the SPA’s role raised by its recent statements.
Ferguson wrote: “I am sure you are aware that in recent weeks there have been a number of statements made by the Snooker Players Association (SPA) regarding their view on the needs of members. Whilst it is useful to have this debate, it is harmful to the sport if it is conducted in public through sometimes inaccurate statements and comments. It is for this reason that the WPBSA board do not intend to engage publicly in this debate, but seek to obtain an accurate view from the membership.”
He continued: “In conducting our business openly the WPBSA board is looking to gain an understanding of whether you feel the need for individual support for players and if so, what form such representation should take. The SPA do offer this form of representation and we are looking to gain an understanding as to whether the SPA could fill this role, whether they have the support of the membership and to what extent.
“The board have asked the SPA for information to establish the extent to which they represent the membership. Unfortunately they have chosen not to provide this information, making it difficult for the board to form a view on their membership representation. The board will therefore take the matter into our own hands.”
This comes in the form of a questionnaire in which players are asked if they are a member of the SPA, if they think the SPA is credible enough to represent them and whether a separate independent body should be established.
The fact that the WPBSA has to undertake this process at all does not reflect well on the SPA. However, it may not be game over for them because, behind the scenes, they have been effective for certain players on certain issues.
Their overwhelming problem is one of public presentation.
The irony of all this is that the WPBSA is supposed to be the players’ union but when snooker grew from folk sport to major TV entertainment the lines of administration started to get blurred and have never really been satisfactorily untangled, even since Barry Hearn took charge of World Snooker Ltd.
For instance, the WPBSA still disciplines players. It surely can’t both represent and punish them.
Players are left wondering who exactly they should turn to if they have an issue which needs raising and, indeed, how seriously their complaints will be taken.