8.4.13

NEW SEASON CALENDAR ANNOUNCED

The calendar of events for the 2013/14 season, released today, illustrates how professional snooker has been transformed since Barry Hearn’s arrival at the helm of World Snooker in 2010.

Let’s remember why the players turned to Hearn: because they said they wanted more tournaments and more prize money. They’ve got both.

Next season there are 11 confirmed ranking tournaments, with at least one more likely, plus eight Players Tour Championship events as well as the Masters and assorted other competitions.

Total prize money rises from £6.4m to £8m. In 2010 it was £3.5m.

Hearn believes – and I for one agree with him – that first prizes should rise to give tournaments headline-catching winners’ amounts. The 2014 world champion will receive £300,000, a record for any event.

Hearn’s whole ethos is to encourage and reward success. But, of course, not everyone can be successful.

It was apt really that the calendar should be released today because Hearn rose to prominence as a sports promoter in the Thatcher era where it was possible to become hugely successful and financially prosperous while many others were simply left behind.

Mark Allen, in a rare foray into controversy, pointed out today in a BBC interview that this divide could deepen in snooker and lead to many players simply packing it in.

Because although prize money has risen, it costs a lot of money to be a snooker professional. Travel and hotel expenses mount up, particularly with frequent visits to China. More tournaments mean more expense.

Top players with anything about them should have sponsors to cover this but lower down it’s tough.

Many would argue professional sport should be tough. It is, after all, the survival of the fittest, but for young players starting out there is the danger that they will be lost to the game before they’ve begun, and any sport needs to renew itself with new players.

Allen made some relevant points, although when he stated that he “deserves more money” he lost some support.

Nobody deserves anything. We’re all governed by market forces in the fields in which we work, and snooker players are no different.

World Snooker doesn’t have a money tree they plant each year to fund the circuit. It comes from good business practice, from the deals Hearn and his team have done.

The calendar reveals that pre qualifying for ranking tournaments – playing down from 128 to 64 – will take place at various venues in Gloucester, Barnsley and Doncaster.

The latter two have been used many times by Matchroom Sport and are perfectly fit for purpose as far as I can tell. They will, crucially, be open to the public.

Wildcards in Chinese ranking events have been cut from eight to four but this is still too many for, I suspect, most players.

The Wuxi Classic began as an invitation tournament for one reason: Ding Junhui comes from Wuxi City. It is now a ranking event but while Ding will have to qualify in the UK, a wildcard – let’s say Zhou Yuelong for argument’s sake – will be at the venue as of right. This makes no sense at all.

But the quibbles are outweighed by the considerable progress Hearn has made. Next season will be the fourth of his original five year plan and snooker now has a thriving calendar.

It should also be pointed out that it isn’t compulsory to play in every tournament. The new money list ranking system makes picking and choosing more likely for tournament winners if they want to give an event or two a miss.

Players should seize the opportunities while they are there. There’s a line in an Ian McEwan novel about Thatcher: “we loathed the government under whom we grew rich.”

There are plenty of players doing very well under Hearn, much better than they were doing before his arrival.

For fans there is much more snooker to watch on TV and online and there are more territories being explored.

Snooker has taken a long, long time to get its act together but the old divisions are now irrelevant. There's no voting Hearn out, no EGMs and knife-edge votes any more.

There's just snooker to play and snooker to watch: and plenty of it at that.

35 comments:

Ron Florax said...

Remembering that change comes over time, I think the small-ish tweaks on the new calendar are relevant and good. The concessions made to make the wildcards fairer are all we could have asked for really, plus the very big issue of winners of matches not earning prize money has been corrected.

Personally I still disagree with the gap between winner and runner-up being so big, and feel it would be better to spend some of that money further down, to help fund the substantial travel, but oh well.

It will be interesting to see how the calendar plays out, and which announcements will be added during the World Championship. I think Barry's doing great work, and has saved the game we all love!

Anonymous said...

No premier league?

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to compare Hearn to Thatcher? For all her faults I doubt Maggie would have imposed a 10 second shot clock on any event..

As for Barnsley & Doncaster, they won't do much to improve the game's image, but by the sounds of it players would prefer it to having qualifiers in China. Just out of interest where was that Bridgestone House that the WPBSA once looked at turning into a dedicated venue for the qualifiers (nearly bankrupting themselves in the process)?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mark Allen has forgotten that the WSA are a world body.
In other words the "plight" of these snooker professionals travelling from the UK to China is a self centered view which hasn´t been thought through.
What about Chinese players who have all had to travel to the UK to qualify?
Mark Allen and his cronies do not own the sport and don´t deserve more of anything, let alone money.
More misinformed rubbish from someone who thinks that because he can pot a good ball, it makes him some sort of brains trustee.

Anonymous said...

I still think it's a mistake to potentially have the world champion playing a rookie in a qualifier, but Bazza has done a good job on everything else. I wonder if he will regret it if he loses say Ding, Trump and Ronnie in a pre-China qualifier?

Can someone clarify when the prize money list comes into effect? Should we be looking at the prize money list now to see who the new world number 1 should be after the WC, or are they going to build the prize money list up over the next couple of seasons and then switch to it?

Anonymous said...

Top blog Dave, as always.

Anonymous said...

@9:13

As Higgins said when asked about flat 128s, if they can't beat someone outside the top64 they don't deserve to be at the venue (paraphrased).

Trevorp said...

Any word on the PL dave ?.also what about the two potential ranking events.India and any other ?.

Anonymous said...

@1134

Maybe not, but sponsors and broadcasters who have put up serious money for the event would probably argue they have paid for the top talent. And why shouldn't the top players have a higher guaranteed income than a rookie? I daresay Barry Hearn has a higher basic pay than his secretary in addition to his shares...

kildare cueman said...

Glad to see the PL gone. Its had its day. Uther than that not a huge change from last year.

As for the Iron lady. May she rust in peace.

Anonymous said...

We need to find a travel sponsor . Lots of multinational companies get discounts on air travel, seems to me that's what is needed here to keep junior players costs down

Also in the bh letter, he seems concerned that players are just not going to enter some events, maybe because of the travel costs.

Anonymous said...

It's refreshing to have an event with a slight difference during the season i.e golf has an event that is played over 5 rounds rather than the standard 4. Snooker's tacky Shoot-Out event is not a high quality enough alternative and won't encourage snooker's PR image at all.

Rather in my opinion, why not try and get ITV or Eurosport to mirror a BBC Masters event with the top 16 and perhaps name it again "The World Matchplay".

Anonymous said...

I think it's right for the Premier League to be left out with it's current format. It was very obvious last season with all respect to Stuart Bingham that some of the players were treating it like an exhibition. Personally I don't think shot clocks work - find another alternative i.e the Six Reds World Chp is ideal.

I hope Hearn doesn't find another broadcaster or is it a sponsor for the PL unless they change the format. Perhaps introduce the 6 red format to the Premier League??

Anonymous said...

Go Jimmy.
Good result son.
Same again tmrw.
Keep the dream alive !!

Anonymous said...

So Ronnie skips the event one year and Sky drop it? He bails on Power Snooker and that is dumped too?

If Ron, Ding and Trump got together and refused to play in qualifiers I bet the flat format would be kicked into the grass in no time.

Anonymous said...

I'm also curious about the introduction of the money list.
Can we expect an announcment during the WC about when and how this will happen?

All in all, Hearn, did great, by introducing, these changes, in my view.

John Michael White said...

Will be interesting to see where the game will be at the end of his second five years.

Ideally you want the winners to be earning headline grabbing amounts, those at the bottom end of the tour to be able to make a living, and everyone in between to be relying on their results not reputation as to how comfortable they are.

I've no sympathy for someone in the top 16 who wants protection. If the the top 16 were that much of an asset to the sport that their protection was in its best interests then snooker wouldn't have needed Hearn in the first place.

Anonymous said...

By the same token, if you took the top 16 out of the game just how marketable would it be now? Would anyone besides China sponsor events? It's a two-way street: the game needs Hearn, and Hearn needs his top players.

Anonymous said...

The Fine Art Copyright
ISBN 0 9517089 0 2
A secret is wasted if not shared.
09/04/13

Dear Garry
How are you lad! Your run down on snooker's future events is very comprehensive but has a "Jam Tomorrow" touch to please and rally together the hopeful “Nearly Men” men of pro snooker.

Barry the friendly Dictator is concentrating on the 51% of commercial rights he claims whether the tournaments are played in Timbuktu Afghanistan or the Shetland Islands.

The pro game will threaten a "Break Away Group” soon over travelling expenses and Barry will divide and conquer by allowing a free ride for the ring leaders as well as special conditions always for Ronnie O.

The BBC has always been on a string and a willing partner to any form of corruption as the licence payers always pay damages.
Plus the Police force are wrong to transfer to Barry there legal duties of a Fair Trial and appeal “Before” sanctions.

The “Gambling Industry” is equally wrong to Sponsor the BBC felons and the World Snookers corrupted “Integrity Unite”. Personally: My only request to Barry was a written assurance that my copyright coaching method would not be sold like the "Joe Davis" library books.
Daniel Marner@mrheyyoutwitterfacebookblogger.

Anonymous said...

Hearn is a jack of all trades... juggling between boxing, darts, snooker, running a football club and fishing.... thinly spreading all his energies into managing various sports, being easily distracted by other "money spinning" sports and ultimately never mastering any.

Anonymous said...

dave why no mention on your blog about the premier league? it was such a stable side project on the calender and allot of fans will be dissapointed to see it gone.it deserves its own article.??

Dave H said...

It won't be on Sky but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't be on in some form

Anonymous said...

Oooh - does that mean the Premier League might continue as an event for Chinese TV / the Bookies to broadcast (like the CLS but in regional Leisure Centres)?

Who is Garry?

Anonymous said...

Re 12.23

Not everything centres around O'Sullivan. The Premier League hasn't been doing well for some time.

Power Snooker has been a commercial flop, and in any case when did O'Sullivan not play in it?

Anonymous said...

Does any website have the calendar in legible form. Cant believe world snooker still use that old pdf format. Very amateurish.

Anonymous said...

@11.25

How much more obvious can it be? Regardless of how it was doing, Sky chose to drop the prem after Ron jumped ship. As for Power Snooker, Ron plays in the first one so it goes ahead. Ron plays in the second (albeit for a huge appearance fee) and it goes ahead. Ron has a year off and so does Power Snooker. I don't know whether you are a jealous player or a deluded Selby fanboy, but the reality is that Ronnie is the game's star attraction, and along with Higgins is still the best player when they rise to the challenge. Without Ronnie you don't have a spectator sport, without Ronnie and Higgins it is questionable whether you actually have a sport.

Anonymous said...

Hermund has come to the rescue on the calendar front:

http://snooker.org/res/index.asp?template=2&season=2013

Wikipedia has a pretty snazzy one too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snooker_season_2013/2014#Calendar

I try to stay away from World Snooker's virus infested site as much as possible.


Trevorp said...

I agree with the last comment world snooker format is piss poor.on atp tour and pga tour websites you can view a full list by opening a page.i could not view that file on my phone.its not good enough really

Anonymous said...

Sky dropped the PL when their contract ended, which was this year. Figures were poor when ROS was playing too.

2 and 2 doesn´t equal 5.

Anonymous said...

Oh crap, like Freddie Krueger, Power Snooker is coming back to terrorise us once more!

trevorp said...

i just noticed in the letter hearn sent to the players he said in 9 of the 12 ranking events players start in round one(exc World Champs,Aussie Open and Shanghai).that means two others will yet be added as the PTC Finals are run over a series of events and use a order of merit for the last32.the rumours are India and Qatar, Dave can you confirm ?.i presume they are being announced during the worlds for promotional reasons.

Ron Florax said...

@11:34 You don't get it. Sport doesn't work that way. Would you give up on tennis if Federer and Nadal quit?

ollie said...

Are we not due a World Team Championship next season? Can't see this on the calendar?

Anonymous said...

Maybe there will be one in the World Games which seems to be occupying the July spot on the calendar that went to the last World Cup. I'm not particularly enamoured of team events, and I think they are better suited to a larger multi-discipline sporting event like the World and Asian Games.

Trevorp said...

The world games has absolutly nothing to do with the world cup !.