Stephen Lee believes his resurgence has stemmed from the increased number of playing opportunities in the last two years and he again produced a confident display to beat Ding Junhui 4-0 in the final of the second Asian PTC in Yixing, China today.

Lee is 38, the sort of age when players are supposed to decline but this season has already seen a PTC triumph for 41 year-old Rod Lawler and the 37 year-old John Higgins win the Shanghai Masters.

Mark Davis and Marcus Campbell, both 40, have been ranking event semi-finalists already in the campaign.

Snooker is not a physical sport so longevity is possible. Way back when in 1978, Fred Davis reached the World Championship semi-finals at the age of 64. His last Crucible appearance came at 70.

Latterly, Steve Davis has eked out impressive performances in his 50s.

However, as people age things do change, not least eyesight and also the ability to handle pressure. Over time, mental scars can form, usually from all the setbacks that litter even the greatest of careers.

I remember about ten years ago covering the qualifiers in the glamorous locale that is Burton-on-Trent.

Davis (Steve, that is) needed the final black to beat Ian McCulloch 5-4. He was right behind it and, for any professional, is was a simple pot.

But that’s the point: it was so simple that it became, paradoxically, missable because Davis knew that there was no excuse to miss it.

And he did miss it. He came off after McCulloch potted it and admitted: “I was shaking like a leaf.”

Steve Davis shaking like a leaf! Well, it happens to the best of them.

Lee has steadily built up his confidence and the PTCs have been key in this, as was evidenced by the fact he won the grand finals last season.

But if I may make this joke for the third time on this blog, snooker, like the black pudding industry, relies on a constant supply of fresh blood.

The younger players are not coming through at the rate they once did, certainly at the rate Lee and the class of ‘92 did.

Perhaps this will change if major events revert to ‘flat’ draws where everyone comes in at the first round. But the PTCs use this system and they are pretty much always won by an established name.

The qualifying system is labyrinthine and tough to come through but it is supposed to be and, in various formats, always has been difficult.

When Lee turned pro he was one of 600-odd players chancing their arm. Most weren’t close to his standard but there were plenty of older players capable of denying the young guns any momentum.

It seems these days this constituency – the experienced pro – is the dominant force.

The likes of Luca Brecel may of course threaten this stranglehold. Ding Junhui broke through, as did Judd Trump.

But the older guard are still a formidable force to be reckoned with.



John Higgins came into the Shanghai Masters without any sort of form after a disappointing 2011/12 season and without much snooker under his belt in the current campaign.

He leaves Shanghai as champion after an astonishing comeback which reaffirms his position as one of the game's all time greats.

He was 7-2 down to an inspired Judd Trump but, as he did from the same position against Mark Williams in the 2010 UK Championship final, recovered to win 10-9.

Trailing 5-0, Higgins made a maximum, the sixth of his career but first since 2004.

It all adds up to one of his best ever performances in a professional career spanning 20 years.

It is 18 years since Higgins won his first ranking title. Shanghai yields him his 25th and he moves above Ronnie O'Sullivan in third place on the overall list with Steve Davis's total of 28 now in touching distance.

It was a classic match but also one of the greatest finals never seen because it was not live on television outside of China which is, to put it mildly, a great shame.

The match, and indeed the semi-finals, prove what we all knew: that snooker is still capable of delivering high drama, particularly if the stakes are high in a major tournament with a big first prize.

This was an excellent tournament with big crowds, even if there were far too many interruptions because of cameras and phones.

Trump will obviously find the defeat hard to take. He got better and better as the week went on and played very well in the final.

He played his full part in the drama on the Grand Stage but the class of '92 are still a formidable bunch.

Higgins, O'Sullivan and Mark Williams were products of a special time which will never come again in the UK, the snooker boom which belongs now to another age: terrestrial television with only four channels meaning that snooker was front and central in the affections of large parts of the nation.

The world has moved on. Snooker is now thankfully more global in terms of its calendar but it will clearly take time for talents of the future to develop into the world class players of Higgins, O'Sullivan and Williams's pedigree. 



The cream has not so much risen to the top as escaped from the Grand Stage as the Shanghai Masters prepares for what should be a terrific finale.

Four great players are left to contest the £75,000 first prize. Three of them are world champions and the other is a leading candidate for future Crucible success.

Mark Williams, no stranger to bizarre accidents, survived coming off a scooter to play Joe Perry and won their decider.

It is worth recording Perry's exemplary sportsmanship here. He potted a red in the decider but fouled, unseen to both referee and Williams. Perry immediately owned up. It is to snooker's credit that in our game this is the norm.

Williams has kind of ambled through the tournament as he ambles through life itself: apparently without a care in the world. But in all the events he has previously won he has stepped it up in the closing stages.

Williams has won 18 world ranking titles. Eight of these have been won outside the UK, including six in Asia and three in China. Some players rival Mr T for their antipathy for getting on planes but Williams is one of snooker's best travellers.

He faces Judd Trump in today's first semi-final after Trump finished off well with a century in the decider against Graeme Dott yesterday.

From 4-1 down, Dott played like a man possessed, going for everything and potting most. It was a great spectacle but he ultimately came up short, and Trump displayed great poise under pressure to take the match out in one visit.

Later, John Higgins will face Shaun Murphy, who is the only one of the four semi-finalists yet to win a ranking title in China.

Murphy would find it hard to gauge his game after yesterday's quarter-final because Stuart Bingham had a 24 carat gold shocker. It was one of those days to forget for Bingham and Murphy picked him off.

Higgins at times resembled a bloodhound so often was he sniffing, but a heavy cold did not unduly affect his performance in beating Ali Carter 5-3.

Higgins started superbly, making a century in the first frame. Carter potted his first ball in frame three and was ultimately left with too much to do.

So four of snooker's leading lights are left to battle it out for the title. This is a great line-up and the snooker will surely match the billing.



It was not so much naughty as polite snooker from Judd Trump yesterday as he once again demonstrated his excellent tactical knowledge to see off Mark Allen 5-2.

Trump failed to impress early on, losing the first two frames, but made a century in the third and then turned the screw. Every time Allen came to the table the cue ball seemed to be on the back cushion.

In fact, according to the TV stats, Trump's safety success going to the interval was 100%.

It was a mature performance reminiscent of the way he played to win his first ranking title, the 2011 China Open.

Trump's reward is a quarter-final meeting today with Graeme Dott, the 2007 China Open champion.

John Higgins delivered another impressive display to whitewash Ryan Day but his opponent today, Ali Carter, is also hitting form, as he proved with his 5-0 defeat of Stephen Maguire.

Carter is clearly far happier and healthier than 12 months ago when the effects of his Crohn's disease were leading him to talk openly of retirement.

He is on a new diet and thankfully seems to be in better shape. In a snooker sense he will need to be against Higgins, who has won seven of their eight previous meetings.

Joe Perry is the only quarter-finalist yet to win a ranking title. He beat Mark Williams in memorable fashion at the Crucible eight years ago and Williams was less impressive yesterday against Ricky Walden than he had been in beating Mark Davis on the opening day.

However, the Welshman has always been adept at scrapping through matches if he has to. It doesn't seem to bother Williams as much as some other players if things go that way.

Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham served up an entertaining 3-3 draw in their recent Premier League meeting but someone has to win this time.

Murphy has seen 3-0 leads dramatically reduced in his two previous matches. Bingham grew stronger while Jamie Cope wilted yesterday.



Judd Trump left it late but, as it transpired, not too late to book his place in the second round of the Shanghai Masters yesterday.

Barry Hawkins was good value for his 3-0 lead but Trump won the fourth frame on the blue and played much better thereafter to win 5-3. He was cheered on by a huge crowd, appreciative of his shot making qualities and tendency to entertain when the frame is won.

John Higgins was a late starter this season - and didn't do much when he did start- but would have been satisfied with the way he played to beat Jamie Jones 5-2.

There was one key shot: the thin green Higgins potted in winning the fourth frame for 2-2, after which he scored very heavily.

It was the sort of ball missable under pressure but Higgins's self belief had seemingly not gone walkabout, even if his form had.

Those who write off truly great players do so it their peril: Higgins once went three years without winning a ranking title when he was a much younger man so last season may not be such a great concern to him.

The last 16 features 12 of the top 16 seeds and only four qualifiers. Each of those four are former top 16 players.

Trump's match with Mark Allen later today should be one to savour if you like all out attacking snooker.

Ricky Walden, already the winner of this season's Wuxi Classic, scraped through against Steve Davis yesterday but beat his opponent today, Mark Williams, in the UK Championship last year.

It appears tickets were sold on the basis of Mark Selby and Ding Junhui winning their matches, which of course they did not.

This explains why Jamie Cope - victorious over Selby - will play Stuart Bingham on a televised table while Stephen Maguire's match against Ali Carter (and Neil Robertson v Joe Perry) is round the back.

Shaun Murphy will play Mark King, Ding's conqueror, on a TV table while Higgins v Ryan Day is on table 3.

The tables are assigned by the Chinese organisers and broadcasters in consultation with World Snooker.

It seems rather inflexible to select the last 16 line up before the event begins, bearing in mind no results are guaranteed.



Spectators at the Shanghai Masters certainly got their money's worth yesterday with several close, absorbing matches.

Jamie Cope's victory over Mark Selby went against type. Too often in the past Cope has lost heart in the heat of battle but this time he was determined and matched Selby's tactical play.

It was Cope who won the close frames: one on the pink and two on the black to knock out the defending champion.

The last frame of the Stephen Maguire-Peter Ebdon match, which lasted 75 minutes, was a comedy of errors, it was just that no one was laughing.

As Ebdon doggedly played on for snookers, Maguire became so frustrated that he could barely do anything right. The contest finally ended with Ebdon accidentally potting the final pink. It felt like the only way it could end.

The 2002 world champion had been involved in a lengthy exchange with the referee, Zhu Ying, about her decision to award Maguire a free ball in the decider. Ebdon was adamant she was wrong.

Zhu impressed me with her calm explanation and she appeared to be absolutely right. In the end, though, this was not the determining factor in the eventual result.

Mark King broke several hearts by beating Ding Junhui, who made another disappointingly early exit from a tournament in his home country.

Ding led 3-0. King won 5-4. He was helped in the decider by Ding attempting a low percentage red.

Shaun Murphy also led 3-0 but only beat Dominic Dale 5-4. Dale played superbly from 4-2 down, with Murphy having only one shot as breaks of 75 and 100 forced the decider.

There is a different pressure though in a decider and Murphy stood up to it, as did Ali Carter against Robert Milkins.

Today's big match is Judd Trump v Barry Hawkins. There have been several tough first rounders for the seeds but this is brutal: the world no.2 v the winner of the last full ranking tournament.

Hawkins has every reason to feel confident after his success in Australia. He has since beaten Trump in a PTC.

Trump is yet to fly this season but it is a long campaign. It was in China last year that he broke through in a big way, winning in Beijing.

A natural crowd pleaser, he will enjoy plenty of support. But as Ding will tell you, this doesn't guarantee success.



The best performance of the opening day of the Shanghai Masters came courtesy of Lu Haotian, a 14 year-old who should surely be at school but who in fact defeated Marco Fu 5-4.

Fu led 3-0, by which point Lu had done nothing to suggest he could possibly win the match. That all changed with his assured century in the fourth frame. After he slotted home a long black to win the fifth the pressure clearly transferred to Fu.

Unless I’ve missed something, Lu becomes the youngest player ever to win a televised ranking event match. Wildcards remain a controversial subject but this isn’t his fault: he was given an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. It was very impressive and he could give Mark Allen a few problems later today.

Meanwhile Mark Williams, who has won three ranking titles in China, the first in Shanghai ten years ago, coasted through against Mark Davis. The way Williams plays, he needs the conditions to be to his liking to produce his best. They were and he did, particularly in completing a clearance in one frame which had to be seen to be believed.

Joe Perry’s 5-2 defeat of Matthew Stevens boiled down to one shot. Clearing up for 2-2, Stevens left himself a little awkward on the pink. He should have used the rest but has a seemingly psychological aversion to it and so played the shot left-handed and missed.

Perry potted it, ironically using the rest, and it wasn’t hard to identify this as the major moment.

Steve Davis played very tidily to see off Zhu Yinghui and secure a last 32 berth. I’m sure his white ferrule is the talk of Shanghai’s bustling night life.

Mark Selby won this title a year ago, beating Williams 10-9 from 9-7 down after the red-or-pink drama of frame 17.

Selby today plays Jamie Cope. The last two times they have played in China, Selby has won 5-0.

Mark King is just the sort of player capable of frustrating Ding Junhui, whose record in Chinese events is not too great outside Beijing.

King has been on a disappointing run of results but he was a semi-finalist in Shanghai last year and well capable of messing Ding about if he needs to.

Peter Ebdon was very impressive in the Premier League, coping fine with the 25 shot clock. The last time he played Stephen Maguire, in last season’s China Open final, it was tortoise rather than hare, particularly in the turgid opening session in which only six of the scheduled nine frames were played.

They meet again in what could be one of the matches of the round. Ebdon is resurgent; Maguire is still looking for his first major ranking title since the 2008 China Open in Beijing.



On the face of it there’s not much left to write about Steve Davis that hasn’t been said already. In 34 years on the circuit he has been one of snooker’s finest ambassadors, greatest winners and most relentlessly disciplined professionals.

The remarkable thing is that, at 55, Davis still retains an almost childlike fascination with snooker.

He has every right to have become thoroughly fed up with knocking balls around a table by now. But he hasn’t. You only have to speak to him for a few minutes to realise he remains one of snooker’s leading evangelists.

Today he plays a 16 year-old, Zhu Yinghui, at the Shanghai Masters.

Davis was one of the first professionals to play in China 30 years ago when he and his manager, Barry Hearn, explored new frontiers on and off the table.

In Shanghai in 1999 I watched him miss a dolly blue to beat his old foe Stephen Hendry. He went on to lose 5-4.

Davis disappeared after the match before turning up 20 minutes or so later for the press conference. “Sorry about that. I was upstairs in my room trying to kill myself,” he deadpanned.

Chinese press, not accustomed to his sense of humour, looked at one another with some confusion, not to say alarm.

In Beijing in 2005, at the China Open eventually won by Ding Junhui, Steve bashed his head on the thick steel door which formed the back entrance to the venue. I thought this was funny until I very quickly did the same thing.

He was so dazed by it that he had to withdraw from his match with Ricky Walden after just a few frames.

Only injury would ever cause Davis not to give it his all. He is held in respect by the other players because they see a man who has dedicated his life to his sport, who has achieved so much and who still wants to be part of it, still wants to play.

For as long as there are balls to pot, Steve Davis will be trying his hardest.



I first went to Shanghai in 1999. The China International, as the tournament was then known, featured four Scottish semi-finalists for the first time in a world ranking event.

John Higgins beat Alan McManus and Billy Snaddon, a top bloke whose form hit a downward spiral soon afterwards, beat Stephen Hendry. Higgins beat Snaddon to win the title.

Snaddon and even Hendry have departed the stage. McManus has had a good season so far but hasn’t qualified for the Shanghai Masters, which starts on Monday.

Higgins’s form this season has been poor, possibly because he has barely played. He beat Mark Allen in the Premier League last night despite a well below par performance.

In some ways, this will give him satisfaction. If you can still win despite not being close to your best then it speaks to your fighting qualities. Mark Williams often did this when he was world no.1 whereas other top players seem to go to pieces when things aren’t working out.

But Higgins’s long game was non-existent last night and he will have to play a lot better to win the title in Shanghai, as he did 13 years ago.

His quarter includes a rematch of last season’s China Open final between Stephen Maguire and Peter Ebdon, which Ebdon won 10-9 after a right old slog. Ebdon’s form and confidence has returned just when he seemed to be in some decline. He puts this down to his vegan diet and this month is eating only raw food.

Maguire has won a PTC but it is these major ranking events that the top players really want to do well in.

Mark Selby is defending champion and meets Jamie Cope in the first round. The last two times they have played in China, Selby has won 5-0.

His quarter includes Shaun Murphy, who faces the inaugural Shanghai champion, Dominic Dale, as well as Ding Junhui, whose only real success in his home country seems to come in the China Open in Beijing. Stuart Bingham, whose will-play-anywhere attitude is to his credit, also makes this a tough little quarter.

Judd Trump, the second seed, faces a potentially tricky opener against Barry Hawkins, who won the last full ranking title, the Australian Open. It doesn’t get any easier after that: Mark Allen or Marco Fu (if Fu beats the wild card).

The other quarter features Williams, Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden, Matthew Stevens and Neil Robertson. The Australian has a poor record in China by his own high standards. The law of averages would suggest this has to end at some point.

The dreaded wild card round is almost certain to send some of the qualifiers packing before the tournament proper has begun.

Steve Davis, 55, faces a 16 year-old, Zhu Yinghui, for whom the great man’s record of achievement will be largely irrelevant.

Jamie Jones, looking to kick-start his season after a disappointing time since his run to the Crucible quarter-finals, meets Lu Ning, who beat him in the China Open last season.

Shanghai is a great city. There’s lots to see for anyone minded to leave the tournament hotel. This tournaments starts with a red carpet parade, which you don’t get in, say, Newport.

There’s also a first prize of £75,000. That first time I went there it was £42,000.

It ended, as I recall, with a drunken singsong which resulted in me forgetting to retrieve Michael Holt’s shoes from reception after he’d left them behind, something for which he still hasn’t forgiven me.

We’ve drifted a little from eye-watering analysis of the runners and riders for the title, but that’s the point: these days there are so many players who fancy their chances.

The winners’ circle is widening all the time, which should guarantee an entertaining week’s snooker at the Grand Stage.



The WPBSA integrity unit is investigating suspicious betting patterns in a match at last week’s PTC in Gloucester.

The match concerned was Steve Davis’s 4-0 win over Thepchaiya Un Nooh. The suspicious patterns were recorded in Asia.

Un Nooh is a former world amateur champion from Thailand who returned to the main tour this season after receiving a nomination from the Thai association.

Davis is not under investigation although he may be asked for his comments about the match as part of the inquiry.

This all seems depressingly familiar. Sir Paul Condon, the former Met commissioner and latterly head of cricket’s anti-corruption unit, has said that betting scams represent a bigger risk to the integrity of sport than drugs.

In years gone by some of the ‘official’ investigations have been nothing of the sort: at one point a former WPBSA member was sent in to watch two apparently dodgy matches at once.

Internet betting has created a bewildering sea of markets and opportunities. At the same time it has created further temptation for players to cheat.

We await the result of this investigation but these are the sort of headlines snooker could do without.



Rod Lawler’s career looked over at the end of last season. Relegated from the professional circuit and into his 40s, he was faced with a bleak choice: chance his arm in the Q School or get a job.

The latter didn’t appeal so much so Lawler paid the £1,000 entry fee and, at the third and final time of asking, qualified.

Even so, few could have expected what was to follow. Lawler won four matches to qualify for the final stages of the season’s first ranking event, the Wuxi Classic, where he beat Stephen Maguire and very nearly beat Graeme Dott.

Lawler had some good wins in the next few tournaments as well before his remarkable capture of Players Tour Championship event 3 in Gloucester last night.

Yesterday alone he beat four ranking tournament winners: Stuart Bingham, Stephen Lee, Dominic Dale and, in the final, Marco Fu.

His win over Fu was his 43rd match of the season, including Q School. Relegation appears to be the best thing that could have happened to the Liverpudlian. It refocused his mind and his priorities. He is now grateful for a second chance, match fit and his confidence is sky high.

Lawler grew up watching snooker in its UK heyday during the boom years of the 1980s. He started late by today’s standards, at 13. He looked up to Jimmy White but his own style has always been more methodical.

So what? It takes all sorts. What he proved in this PTC is how adept he is at playing the percentages. He likes to attack but, if he runs out of position, he doesn’t push the boat out but plays a good safety and tries to force a mistake and thus another opening.

Lawler said his previous best moment was beating Stephen Hendry live on TV at the 1996 International Open, after which he went on to reach the final, losing to John Higgins. He also defeated John Parrott at the Crucible in 1995.

But nothing beats winning a trophy and, after 22 years as a professional, that is what he has now done.

Lawler has some good practice partners with which he plays regularly: Dave Harold, Andrew Higginson and Ricky Walden.

He like them is the sort of dedicated professional who keeps his head down, works hard and treats the game with respect.

He has spent most of his professional career in the wings as one of the game's supporting cast. He thoroughly deserves his moment in the spotlight.

It’s been a long time coming for Rod but he has finally done it and in the process authored one of the most unlikely but heart warming stories of recent snooker times.



The third Players Tour Championship event of the season at Gloucester this week heralds the return to action of Ronnie O’Sullivan.

His match against Simon Bedford on Saturday will be O’Sullivan’s first since he beat Ali Carter to win his fourth world title last May.

He said then that he wanted a break and he has taken one, although this has in part been because, in his own words, he found the World Snooker players’ contract “too onerous.”

So what has changed? Well, O’Sullivan wants to play again.

On the eve of the entry date for the latest batch of tournaments he contacted World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and they had a face-to-face meeting. Despite the summer of wrangling over the contract, O’Sullivan and Hearn go way back and like each other.

Hearn told Snooker Scene: “We went through the contract in detail. I explained a few things Ronnie hadn’t understood before. I made no concessions. Ronnie signed the same contract all the other players have signed. It was all very amicable.”

It is unlikely O’Sullivan would have had much appetite for the Wuxi Classic, Australian Open and early PTCs. John Higgins skipped these as well.

But the prospect of not playing in the UK Championship appeared to be a step too far for a player who clearly still has much to offer.

O’Sullivan has many fans and many detractors but nobody can deny the interest he has generated for snooker, not just in terms of bums on seats but in the wider media.

It may be expected that O’Sullivan will be rusty coming back several months after everyone else has been playing but I suspect it won’t take long for him to get back into the swing of things.

He will want to improve his world ranking, which currently stands at 16th, although he will be seeded first or second in all ranking events as world champion even if he drops out of the top 16.

A few months from turning 37, O’Sullivan remains among the group of favourites for any tournament he enters. It would take a dramatic decline for this to change in the near future.

Like Higgins, he won’t play in everything but it was clear at the Crucible that the buzz of competition on the big stage still excites him.

Ultimately Ronnie is Ronnie: a genius who captivates and maddens in almost equal measure. He has, as the song goes, done it his way and that seems unlikely to change as he prepares to start his 21st season as a professional.



On Thursday night in the UK, Sky Sports, which has four channels, will put the Premier League snooker behind the red button until 10pm.

Under 21 football, US Open tennis, US golf and T20 club cricket take precedence.

Viewers with the right kit can still watch the snooker but it is an illustration of how far the sport has fallen on Sky.

It is worth reflecting how well Sky has covered snooker over the years.

With many hours to fill and with snooker a popular sport, in the early days of Sky they showed as much as they could get. They showed it all day long and all night long too.

In terms of production, they were ahead of the BBC with more cameras and more ideas. In turn, this led to the BBC upping their game.

Sky was the first to pilot interactive snooker with a choice of, at one point, three tables.

The problem in the end was that they were left with what were regarded as the lesser tournaments. These were still big events. The Scottish Open was always popular, not least because Stephen Hendry and John Higgins were winning so much, but they weren’t the World or UK Championships.

Sky bid big for the top events but the WPBSA felt they should remain on the BBC (the fact several WPBSA board members were also BBC commentators surely a coincidence.)

I think they were right, regardless of financials. If snooker disappeared from the BBC it could disappear in the UK completely.

Sky’s other problem was that the Scottish Open was played very close to the World Championship.

I’m told that at the end of the last contract, two WPBSA board members went to a meeting with Sky Sports executives hoping to renew. They were presented with newspaper cuttings in which players were generally reported to be dismissing the Scottish event as unimportant with the Crucible coming up.

Sky’s response was basically ‘then why should we show it?’

And they didn’t and haven’t shown a ranking event since.

Their snooker portfolio, understandably, revolves around ‘different’ events: the Premier League, World Seniors Championship and Shootout.

These are all entertaining competitions but not majors. A ranking tournament would beef up Sky’s snooker coverage but the truth is they no longer need snooker as they have so much other sport.

It is also true, as revealed in the Barry Hearn documentary shown on the BBC last May, that Barney Francis, Sky’s head of sport, does not believe snooker is a ratings puller.

His argument was that, in this day and age, snooker is too slow moving. All of Sky’s events have a shot clock (though this in itself doesn’t guarantee better snooker).

I think Francis is wrong. Sky shows a lot of Test cricket, which is also slow moving but, to many, is fascinating.

Snooker still does good business on the BBC, Eurosport and on other channels, so why not Sky?

Ironically, Francis is the son of Tony Francis, who used to present snooker for ITV.

Sky has not given up on snooker but it seems unlikely that it will make much of an effort to show any more of it than it does currently.

Hearn has historically supplied hour upon hour of various sports to Sky and has a very good relationship with them.

If he can’t persuade them to take more snooker then nobody can.