The WPBSA AGM was held today in Sheffield.

Mike Dunn and Jim McMahon, the two serving directors required to submit themselves for re-election, made it back on to the board while Brandon Parker was unsuccessful.

The results (votes for and against):
Mike Dunn: 45-14
Jim McMahon: 42-17
Brandon Parker: 16-42


110sport have issued the following statement:

RONNIE O’Sullivan has half-a-million reasons for putting the disappointment of last week’s Grand Prix final defeat behind him.

For the twice-world snooker champion is about to become the game’s highest-earning player off-table by entering in to a series of endorsement contracts in China.

The 31-year-old, who lost to stablemate Marco Fu in Aberdeen, is in Guangzhou this week to film a series of TV commercials and complete contracts that will boost the world No.5’s income by £500,000 over the next two years.

O’Sullivan will put his name to a series of products including watches, clothing and snooker tables.

A spokesman for Stirling-based 110sport, O’Sullivan’s management company said; “Ronnie is such a massive attraction in snooker, especially in China where the game has taken off.

“As the most spectacular player in the game it’s not a surprise that companies want to align themselves with the biggest character in snooker.”

Good luck to Ronnie. This certainly confirms his and snooker's popularity. I just hope it means he actually plays in tournaments in China in the future because his participation in the Far East will help grow the game even further.



I read a story in one of the newspapers last week which questioned why Reanne Evans, as women's world champion, should earn so much less than Ronnie O'Sullivan (who isn't the men's world champion but is someone the paper presumably thought its readers would know).

This is a question often asked and has a very simple answer: because the standard in the women's game is nowhere near as high as that in the men's, so sponsors, TV and the public are less interested.

I say the 'men's' but women have never been barred from playing on the professional circuit. Allison Fisher, the best women's player of all time, beat Mike Hallett and Neal Foulds in the Matchroom League but her highest ranking was only 192.

Barry Hearn televised the women's World Championship a few times but it didn't really catch on.

In 1997, the WPBSA took the women's game under their wing, staging finals during major ranking tournaments, including at the Crucible.

A few years later the women were cut adrift and now have to fend for themselves with meagre sponsorship but a circuit of sorts.

Fisher, Karen Corr and Kelly Fisher have all gone to America to play on the far more lucrative 9-ball pool circuit, where they are all doing well.

Evans has vowed not to follow them. She loves snooker and would like to make a decent living from it.

For this to happen she needs a more competitive circuit and that will only happen if more women take up the game.

Snooker has always had a strong female following but playing standards have not really risen. If they did and a woman emerged who could challenge the leading male players the game itself would receive a huge boost.

As snooker is not a physical game there is no reason in theory why this could not happen.

Only time will tell if it actually does.



Jimmy White is rumoured to be among the celebrities being lined up for the new series of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

For non-UK readers, this is a TV programme in which celebs are ritually humiliated in a jungle setting.

Then again, Jimmy's spent so much time at Pontin's of late that it might come as a welcome relief.



The Saga Masters wildcard will go to Grand Prix champion Marco Fu unless something extraordinary happens at the Northern Ireland Trophy.

This is bad news for Dominic Dale, the Shanghai Masters champion, who also missed out after winning the 1997 Grand Prix when Jimmy White got the nod instead.

Fu is favoured because he can do much to help raise interest in Asia. However, Dale won a tournament in China, which we are constantly told is the great emerging market for the game.

The obvious choice would be to invite them both but it may be too late for that now.



This may come back to haunt me but I don't expect Marco Fu to be roundly thrashed by Ronnie O'Sullivan in today's Royal London Watches Grand Prix final in Aberdeen - which is the outcome many are predicting.

Fu was sluggish to say the least in putting away Gerard Greene 6-5 in a four hour, 18 minute grind last night but experienced the jitters that heavy favourites often do.

Against O'Sullivan, he won't have this and, having beaten Ronnie five times in 11 meetings, is well capable of causing an upset.

That said, I'd be amazed if O'Sullivan doesn't win his first ranking title in 31 months. He was superb in recovering from 5-2 down to beat Shaun Murphy 6-5 and seems to be cueing as well as ever.

My prediction? Ronnie to win 9-5 or 9-6. Whatever the result, let's hope it's good stuff.



Ronnie O'Sullivan has been in sublime form at times in Aberdeen this week but is refusing to play ball with the media, answering only in mumbled half-phrases in his post match press conferences.

Most people at the tournament find this behaviour pretty tiresome. Shaun Murphy has just suggested it is unprofessional.

I'm not sure what Ronnie's exact problem is but the regular snooker press have nothing against him. Indeed, we like him so it's a shame he is choosing to act in the way he is.



So it's over then. 120 matches and we finally have the last 16 line-up.

Hopefully what has happened over the last five days will spell the end of the round robin format at the Royal London Watches Grand Prix.

There have been too many dead games, too much confusion, poor crowds in Aberdeen and, far worse, all sorts of insinuations about the integrity of certain matches.

None of this has done the sport any good whatsoever.



John Higgins has revealed that he almost pulled out of the Shanghai Masters in August after being told that his world final re-match with Mark Selby was being put on a non-TV table.

Higgins told me how incensed he was in an interview for the Sunday Herald, which can be read here:

I know some people will say, 'prima-donna, who does he think he is?'

Well here's who he is: the world champion and world no.1 who flew to Shanghai the month before the tournament to attend an official launch.

The matches chosen ahead of his were Steve Davis v Dave Harold and Stuart Bingham v Stuart Pettman.

As I said at the time, it was a bewildering decision.


Richard Beare, the circuit's master of ceremonies for the last two years, has resigned.

Beare was seen behind the mic at Pot Black last week but contacted World Snooker a few days later to say he did not wish to continue.

This would be a good chance for them to bite the bullet and ring up the much missed Alan Hughes, who did the job for two decades before resigning after being expected to do more work for less money.

Of all the people who have done the job at various tournaments over the years, Alan was easily the best.



I think Stephen Hendry will do well in Aberdeen this week some 20 years after he first won the Grand Prix.

He has a new cue this season and a new coach in the shape of Chris Henry, who previously helped Hendry's great rival Peter Ebdon.

At 38, Hendry is not content to sit back and wallow in nostalgia for the good old days. He still believes there are many good days to come.

In recent seasons, he hasn't played consistently as well as he did when he was in his 1990s heyday but there have been flashes of the old Hendry at times and if he puts it all together he will remain a force to be reckoned with.

Of all the players I've watched, at his best he has been better than anyone else.



Ronnie O'Sullivan preferred to take part in a 5km cross country race in Loughton instead of Pot Black last Saturday, I can reveal.

He was said not to have accepted his invitation to the one-frame event because of 'personal reasons'.

He was not compelled to play in the tournament but at least he would have been guaranteed a top eight finish.

In his race, he finished 19th.



Mark Joyce makes his television debut this Saturday at the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Aberdeen.

It gets better for him - he's making it against Ronnie O'Sullivan.

As he told me at the qualifiers, 'this is the reason I play the game.'

Mark has only been on the circuit since the start of last season. Indeed, this is only the ninth ranking event he has played in.

What chance does he have of causing an upset? You never know which Ronnie will turn up, of course, but it can be hard adjusting to the different conditions. TV lights, a big arena and, we hope, a large crowd will take some getting used to.

Nevertheless, Mark should think of his friend and fellow West Midlander Martin Clark, who made his TV debut at the 1987 International in Stoke against Dennis Taylor, then very much one of the sport's top stars.

The result? Clark 5, Taylor 0.



It is a year to the day since Paul Hunter died.

I’m sure many people remember the shock of hearing of his passing 12 months ago. Everyone knew he was seriously ill, but for someone so full of life to die at the age of 27 didn’t seem credible.

He certainly isn’t forgotten but, of course, life and snooker moves on.

I’m sure everyone in snooker would send their best wishes to his widow, Lindsey, and family today.

It would have been Paul’s 29th birthday this coming Sunday. It would be nice if this were acknowledged in some way at the Grand Prix in Aberdeen.

A plaque honouring him was today unveiled at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield by Daniel Wells, the first recipient of the Paul Hunter Scholarship.

Paul's father, Alan, and two of his uncles were present. The plaque reads:
In Memory Of Paul Hunter.
October 14th, 1978 to October 9th, 2006.
A Great Champion.

Wells said: "October 9 is a day when all snooker fans, and anyone that knew Paul, will pause for thought.

"The way Paul played as well as the way he conducted himself has been an inspiration to me and I feel extremely fortunate to benefit from the Scholarship that carries his name.

"I hope that this plaque will remind anyone who plays at the Academy to follow the example of sportsmanship which Paul set."

- Watch the deciding frame of Paul Hunter's last Wembley Masters victory here: http://www.worldsnooker.com/interactive_video.htm



Pot Black attracted a viewing audience of only 800,000 to BBC1 on Saturday afternoon.

This could in large part be down to the fact England were playing (indeed beating) Australia in the Rugby Union World Cup quarter-finals on ITV.

But I can't help thinking that people would rather watch a competitive event that has meaning rather than what is basically a bit of a laugh, albeit one that carries a first prize of £10,000.

Well done to Ken Doherty, who clearly enjoyed himself.

Like all players involved other than Stephen Hendry, Ken wasn't born when Pot Black was first screened in 1969.

It was the first time snooker had been seen on colour TV and made stars of the early professionals, leading to the creation of the professional circuit we have today.

It is questionable, though, whether people are as beguiled by the one frame format now.



Remember the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy and chums took a trip to the Emerald City but it was all a dream.

Well now the Emerald Classic, planned for Galway later this month, has been revealed to be a fantasy as well.

The tournament has been cancelled. A great shame, this, considering the high quality field that had been assembled.

Spiralling costs and poor organisation appear to be the reasons it's been called off.

Meanwhile, I understand the Kilkenny Masters, staged last March, is by no means certain to be held again.



I see Ronnie O'Sullivan has attracted quite a bit of criticism because he isn't playing in Saturday's Pot Black.

I can understand snooker fans being disappointed but the fact remains that Ronnie DID NOT withdraw from the tournament. He was never in it to start with.

He had, as a member of the top 7, been invited to play but was under no obligation to compete.

What caused some irritation was that he left it so long to decide, meaning the draw could not be printed in, for instance, the Radio Times.

I've heard it suggested that he isn't playing because of disatisfaction over how his disciplinary hearing following his York walkout last season was handled.

Ronnie was fined £21,000 despite providing what his management considered to be compelling medical evidence pointing to his mental state at the time.

I think it was right he was punished for such a lapse in professionalism but there was a huge hypocrisy in that the very people fining him - the WPBSA - had covered up another premature concession, from Ding Junhui, at the Masters in January because they didn't want this showpiece final ruined.

OK, so Ding was 9-3 down in a best of 19 and Ronnie was only 4-1 down in a best of 17 but the same principle should apply.

Ironically, Ronnie took part in this cover-up but did so with the best of intentions, because he was concerned about Ding's welfare.

All of which leads us to here: Ronnie didn't play in Shanghai, he's not playing in Pot Black and his participation in all of the rest of this season's tournaments can't be taken for granted given his continuing depressions.

For those of us who enjoy watching him play this is all very sad.



In the October issue of Snooker Scene, out today, Clive Everton examines Ronnie O'Sullivan's current mental state and asks whether it will stop him winning a title this season.

We also have full coverage of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix and Saga Insurance Masters qualifying events and the IBSF World Championship, as well as all the news and results from the worlds of snooker, billiards and pool.

We have also reviewed Lindsey Hunter's book 'Unbreakable' about the life and death of her husband, Paul.



So Ronnie O'Sullivan has decided not to play in Pot Black on Saturday.

He wasn't compelled to. It isn't a ranking event and he hadn't officially entered the tournament.

However, I understand he kept the WPBSA hanging on for weeks before finally making a decision so they can be forgiven for being unhappy with him.