Barry Hearn’s Matchroom organisation has indicated it will sue for breach of contract if any of the four players scheduled to play in the Premier League at Haywards Heath on November 13 instead compete in the Bahrain Championship, the new ranking event announced today.

Matchroom has promoted the League since 1987. It is shown each Thursday night on Sky Sports in the UK and many other TV channels around the world.

Steve Davis is managed by Hearn so even if he qualifies for Bahrain it is currently inconceivable he will play in the final stages.

The other three players involved are John Higgins, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui, who now find themselves, through no fault of their own, in an almost impossible position.

Unless something is sorted out, they will be sued by Matchroom if they play in Bahrain.

If they don’t play in Bahrain it will devalue the new event and obviously harm their ranking positions.

Matchroom say they were told by World Snooker in April that they could hold a League night on November 13 as there would not be any other snooker on.

They also say that World Snooker has not contacted them to tell them there is now a tournament cutting across this date.

In a statement, Hearn said: “I am very disappointed that this situation has arisen and I can’t understand why World Snooker has not discussed dates and timings with us.

“Our dates for the Premier League were set in April of this year following consultation with World Snooker, venues were booked and the seven competing players were contracted in May.

“As the Premier League is televised live by Sky Sports I’m afraid that we will be sticking to our dates and insisting that the four competing players on the Thursday night duly honour their contracts.

“It’s a shame that World Snooker made no effort to avoid conflicting schedules and will subsequently be losing four top players from their event.

“I don’t imagine that the players concerned will be too happy either.”

As I always do when there’s a story concerning them I asked World Snooker for a response. As they always do, they refused to give one.

However, Pat Mooney, the manager of John Higgins, said: “John is contracted to play in the Premier League and intends to honour his contract but we will look at the legal position with regards to his ranking points as he will be disadvantaged by not going to Bahrain.”

A lot of people will ask why Matchroom don’t simply move the Premier League night. However, tickets have already gone on sale and they have a contract with Sky to provide snooker on the agreed dates.

If they do not fulfil this contract they may themselves be sued.

So what happens next?

Honestly, I’ve no idea. This is unchartered territory and a very unfortunate situation.

Everyone will welcome a new ranking event but Hearn is a businessman and therefore entitled to ask why he should lose out as a result of it.

One thing I do know, though, is this: if it comes to a straight fight between Barry Hearn and World Snooker then it could end up being about far more than who plays where on November 13.


Anonymous said...

Personally I'd be pleased if Hearn ran the whole circuit. Shame he was another talent who got too frustrated to put up with World Snooker any more.

Anonymous said...

Probably World Snooker pays Matchroom a fee for reorganising that particular date. World Snooker just can’t go to Barain the first time without Davis, Higgins, Selby and Ding.

Another Solution would be to have those player play their matches in Prestatyn after the qualifying. So they could play on Thursday in England and then fly over to Bahrain to compete in their Quater Finals if they qualify. This is not a desirable procedure and it seems that they must do half the tournament in Prestatyn if they opt for this.

At least World Snooker shouldn’t leave byes there and send 13 out of the top 16 to the tournament and a replacement for Davis.

Anonymous said...

Hearn and the players may well be frustrated by the way World Snooker are going about their business, but to play devils advocate, it is the players who can change things by voting out the board members.

That doesn't excuse the careless behaviour of World Snooker, and the players are entitled to feel agrieved, but it is difficult to have sympathy when they have the powers to change things and seemingly do nothing about it.

Sam T

andy said...

This will be a constant issue with multiple tournaments over multiple tours. And the only way for snooker to grow is to have multiple tours.

A solution would be to have weighted ranking point system over multiple tours and a general acknowledgement over tour organisers that players will be honouring contracts already in place.

The players that miss Bahrain may miss out on ranking points but will have the opportunity to earn more money (probably).

It's the players that have the power to change how snooker is run, nobody else. They have to accept the short term loss for the long term gain. Same in any business.


Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of Hearn, but he is right on this one. His schedule has been announced far ahead of the world snooker new tournament. It just shows the arrogance of the incompetent WSA who try to ruin snooker in any way they can. First the tournament coincides with the German tournament and now this. Its time Walker and his clique move away from snooker as far as possible.


Anonymous said...

The only thing I find inexcusable here is that World Snooker didn't consult with Hearn regarding the conflict of dates.To behave in this manner shows a complete disregard to the players,to Sky and Hearn.
The Board will get away with it though because it only affects 3 or 4 players.Indeed some players could benefit from this by receiving byes in Bahrain so they are probably all for it!
The Board continues to show contempt to the players it should be serving.The other comments here are quite right because the players have accepted the boards behaviour for so long they cannot blame anyone else.They can take control by voting for change but their apathy has led to there currently being no viable alternative on the table.
The bottom line is the players have the board they deserve.

Anonymous said...


The news of an eighth working ranking event this coming season I thought would be good news, especially after the news surrounding Saga Insurance and 888.Com a couple a weeks ago but to put it up against the already scheduled Premier League is a bad move especially when there are available weeks in the second half of the season (post Christmas).

I think, even after all these years, the Premier League is good for snooker - over the years Barry Hearn and Matchroom have taken the League to venue's that normally wouldn't see top class snooker and the excellent live coverage it receives every Thursday on Sky Sports.

I think it's rather worrying that this is the second time World Snooker have scheduled an event against one already on the calendar, as per the Shanghi Masters against the World Series towards the latter end of next month and the mainstream season doesn't kick off until Sunday.

It's going to be very interesting to see how this resolves, especially as the money on offer across the Premier League season to the eventual champion will surely dwarf the Bahrain Championships.

On the plus side though, will British Eurosport be covering this event with or without Mark Selby, John Higgins, Ding Jun Hui and Steve Davis?


Anonymous said...

WSA seem to be destined to losing control of snooker and they now know this as a fact and that is why they r throwing spanners in the works left,right and centre. First they date clash with the German Classic which they r probably fed up of hearing is a great success. Then they do exactly the same with the World Series of Snooker, another success story which puts some of their own world snooker ranking tournaments in the shade with capacity crowds turning up at only the second event. Now they have added a new event(which will probably disappear next year)just to raise morale and cut it right across an event(Premier League)which is essential in the snooker calender. This makes them feel important by just doing this alone, but it does nothing for the game and embarrasses the decision makers.It is time for the players to stand up for themselves and insist on an EGM to get the current board overthrown. If this isn't possible Barry Hearn and Pat Mooney should get together to discuss a breakaway tour. The only drawback to this would be the World Championship at the Crucible because of it's history and a new World Championship wouldn't quite be the same. But all the other tournaments could easily be replaced. The World Championship is the only bargaining tool the current board have got(and they know it)cos the other events r worthless. Wot other alternative is there? None. Please someone who can. SAVE OUR GAME.


Anonymous said...

The 8th World ranking event is a delight after the relative pain of 888.com and Saga pulling out of long term deals.

This matter with the Premier league is an issue that World Snooker should have foreseen as they did tell Matchroom that a aleague night could be scheduled for that time. A contract is a contract but it will be a bit harsh if the players are the one's left to deal with this and make the choice. I think - as someone above posted - that a solution may be World Snooker compensating Matchroom for a change of dates.

I think the players must be delighted about the trip to the Middle East though as more ranking points and more chance to earn a decent living from the game - the popularity out there is growing all the time. It would be great to see an event in Belgium or Germany as well in the future as these two nations are also developing.

Dave H said...


I'm sure Eurosport will be interested in covering the event

It occurred to me that Higgins and co could go and play in Bahrain and then come home - regardless of whether they get through the first round or not

At least that way they would stand a chance of getting some ranking points

Anonymous said...

And as per usual what does World Snooker do to fix this?. Easy, blame the players. Just read their somewhat bullish statement stating that calenders were always provisional and tournaments can be either entered or not. They will not take any responsibilty for players who dont appear.
Surely that has to be the post that throws this truly incompetent board out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Nick B and Paul - it's not the first occasion of clash in events and the not-World Snooker events were always announced long before announcement of World Snooker events. It's shame for players, for fans and for snooker in itself too.

Stephen said...

This smacks of either arrogance or incompetence on the part of World Snooker.

And surely the statement that "Given the increasing number of the events in the calendar and time restraints in formally announcing tournaments this is becoming increasingly difficult" was made in jest?