The sheer incompetence of the WPBSA never ceases to amaze me.

Today, they released the draw for the Shanghai Masters. It did not include the name of Michael White, who won the world amateur title in March 2006.

White is 15. The age at which players can turn professional is set at 16 but there have been exemptions in the past, most notably Shaun Murphy in 1998.

When I asked the governing body why White had been overlooked, I was told categorically: 'We've checked the records. Nobody has ever played professionally under the age of 16.'

Really? I have a WPBSA press release in my possession dated July 30, 1998. It begins:

"Shaun Murphy, snooker's youngest professional, lost his opening match in the summer qualifiers at Plymouth Pavilions last night.

"The 15 year-old from Irthlingborough, Northants, was beaten 5-2 by Northern Ireland's Dermot McGlinchey in the first round of the Grand Prix.

"Murphy was allowed to play as a professional after qualifying for the world ranking tournament circuit through the Riley UK Tour last season. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) decided that, as his 16th birthday comes just a few days into the qualifiers, he should be permitted to compete."

So there it is, in black and white on the WPBSA's own headed paper. So much for 'checking the records.'

There are mistakes and there are mistakes. Some are mere errors that can be corrected, others are more serious.

This is an appalling one because we are talking about a young man's career here. If White is not allowed to play in the first qualifying event then he will spend the rest of the season playing catch up.

In my view, he should be reinstated into the draw immediately.


Anonymous said...

I don't think this is as straight forward as you seem to think Dave.
Yes the WPBSA have made a mistake-it isn't the first and certainly won't be the last.
However I think they made an error in allowing Murphy to play professionally when he was 15(surely he wouldn't have been allowed to if his dad wasn't part of the board at the time?)
Perhaps they are now not repeating the mistake with White.Surely not repeating mistakes is a good thing?
If it is a mistake it is hardly serious.He is only 15 and will likely play professional snooker for many years.One or two missed tournaments now certainly isn't catastrophic.
When will White be 16?
As long as White and all prospective professionals are aware of the age limits then no harm is done.
Of course it wouldn't be surprising if they weren't:)


Dave H said...

Tony Murphy wasn't a board member when the original decision was made

If Michael White falls off the tour by a couple of hundred points it will be because of this decision - he then has to spend a year trying to get back on, which is no certainty

Why should there be any age restriction? It was brought in because of tobacco sponsorship but this has now gone

Chris Turner said...

Now they have failed to give Vinnie Muldoon the place he earned and have gone instead to Issara Kachaiwong.

Whilst I tend to think that the third Europe place should go to a continental player as the British & Irish have their own route onto the tour, there is no reason to give it to a Thai player even though Issara was very unlucky to miss out in the Grand Prix last year.

Anonymous said...

Obviously there has to be an age limit so where do you draw the line?
Everyone should be encouraged to complete their education so 16 seems an appropriate age.
If you let 15 year olds turn pro why not 14,13.......?
If White fails by a couple of hundred points you could say he hadn't done well enough in the tournaments he had entered,so to blame the WPBSA for this is stretching the point too far.
Perhaps they should state that all players could only turn pro in the August(or whenever the first tournament of the season is) following their 16th birthday.Then there wouldn't be any confusion and all players would be starting from the same position.
Whatever system is in place will adversely effect someone so I guess the WPBSA cannot win on this one.

Dave H said...

They can win by being consistent in the decisions they make and by treating everyone fairly

andy said...

Yes I agree, consistency in decision making displays the strength of an organisation and gives the organisation a high degree of credibility.

This is always difficult to achieve in any organisation and you can be sure that it's not only the WPBSA that fails in this area.

People can go to work when they leave school, maybe a snooker career should be looked upon in the same manner. So a young talented snooker player can start playing snooker professionally when he/she leaves school. It gets more complicated though when you start thinking internationally. Different countries allow young people to work at different ages.

This would inevitably lead to protests and cries of the WPBSA been unfair as no doubt children in some other countries can start work - therefore their snooker career - earlier than other countries.

It might be looked upon as irresponsible for the WPBSA to allow very young players to play professionally as they might be depriving them of an education that they might need in the event of the young star not making it in the snooker world. There's been plenty of snooker talents that haven't made it in the professional world because they can't handle the pressure, but have made it big time in the amateur game.

Food for thought, ...I'm off to the pub!


Anonymous said...


This boy obviously has talents and I would have no doubt in allowing someone of his age - unless the WSA changed its rules - to play, just as they had with Murphy. Especially as he cannot be far off 16.

But, it is worry, like Tennis/Golf players, that burnout or they find themselves not good enough and drop off the circuit - didn't Jamie Cope do this, as he felt he wasn't good enough? - where next...?

I hope kids are staying on Education long enough to get good qualifications and skills...just in case.

Thanks, joe

Newfred said...

@Andy: Don't forget that under 16s are allowed to work a small number of hours each week -- so the law about work is not necessarily incompatible with playing professional snooker while still under 16.