The economic downturn, smoking ban and general decline in interest in snooker in the UK have led to Rileys going into administration, forcing the closure of 30 snooker clubs and the loss of around 200 jobs.

The administrators have said the future of the other 129 clubs and 1,200 staff had been secured after the sale of the firm's remaining assets, which have been bought by a new company called Valiant Sports, which includes some of Rileys' existing directors.

The clubs closing down are: Blackburn, Bracknell, Burnley, Clapham, Debden, Dundee, Glasgow (Victoria Road), Hartlepool, Hounslow, Lancaster, Long Eaton, Luton (Club Snooker), Luton (Leagrave Rd), Northampton (Derngate), Nuneaton, Oxford (Colours), Penicuik, Peterborough, Rainham, Rotherham (Kimberworth Rd), Rotherham (Doncaster Gate), Rugeley, St Albans, Scarborough, Stanford-Le-Hope, Stretford, Stoke (Fenton), Sutton Coldfield, Wakefield and Weston-super-Mare.

When people say snooker is 'dying' they have a point when it comes to the UK, where the great boom of the 1980s has long since ended.

However, overseas - particularly in mainland Europe - interest remains very high.


Anonymous said...

heard this rumour last weekend. unfortunately true, but its everywhere now and the sport we love was already suffering before the worlds wheels slowed to a near stop

Claus Christenen said...

That was some very sad news. I hope the excitement and buzz that exists in places like Denmark (my only point of reference) returns to the UK and I hope now more than ever that they get a sponsor for the world championship to add something positive to all this doom and gloom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Is there anymore news on whether the World Championship is being sponsored by anyone this season?

Or is it still coming out the WSA's budget?

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

It's looking unlikely unless they get someone at the last minute.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but I notice the London Watches/Maplin boards around other tournament tables, than the tourments they actually sponsor(Masters/UK Championship.)

So, do they drip-feed extra sponsor money into other tournaments and, if so, would it not be possible for them to contribute to the Sheffield jamboree? It would make sense, seeing as they only have them for a maximum of 7 days TV play at other tournmanets, when this is 17 days of great blanket coverage.

Any idea how much these companies put in and why they couldn't do it for The Crucible?

Thanks, Joe

stuartfanning said...

Quote from Dave: "However, overseas - particularly in mainland Europe - interest remains very high."

Overegging it a bit as far as mainland Europe goes Dave. Interest has been building from a very low base but it could hardly be called very high yet.

Dave H said...

So why did nearly 3,000 people attend an exhibition in Germany last week then?

Why are the top players going to exhibitions in Europe every other week?

Answer: because there's a huge market there not being properly tapped into

Monique said...

Well at least Stuart it IS a GROWING market. The Belgian Open last September was better attended than most rankers. I was in Berlin last week for the Berlin Invitational (Higgins, Jimmy White, Day, Murphy, Robertson there)and it's 4000 seats were taken. Hendry, Carter, Selby, Maguire and Davis will be in Wupperthal and Munich in May.
ROS, Murphy, Day and Davis will be in Munich and Berlin in June.
You can be sure they will fill the venues. The PHC is a success every year. I have been in Prague and Warshaw also and the venues were packed, even over packed.
Have a look at GSC and the accounts of the St Petersbourg events. Have a look at the pictures of the venues ... can you afford venues with over 120 tables (pool, snooker and pyramid) if it's not profitable?
Yes the sport must be developped. The structures are weak, especially when tackling the youth. Coaches are badly needed.
But opportunities are there and I'm afraid will be missed again.
Why is BBC "censoring" its streamings outside UK? Why isn't WPBSA streaming qualifiers? Why do the final sessions of finals need to start so late? (it's 8 pm for you brits, but it's 9 or 10 for us europeans!) ... all of this reduces the potential audience, especially young audience, in Europe. And it wouldn't take much to fix it.
ok end of rant! :)

Janie said...

Sad news about Rileys, which we heard yesterday, but doesn't surprise me in the least.
Snooker clubs in the UK are living in the dark ages compared to the vibrant clubs around the world.
"New" clubs are offering a range of activities and services to bring a variety of customers through the doors.
I walked out of the venue here in Russia at about 1am this morning and glanced back to see around 60 of the 120 pool tables in play, and at least 20 of the pyramids tables.
And the bar areas, cafes and amusements areas were all packed.
The club stays open until around 6am, when it closes for a couple of hours for cleaning etc.
But if they brought in a smoking ban in Russia, then I think their clubs would take a bashing too. But it's unlikely as everyone would freeze to death standing outside to smoke!

Anonymous said...

"So why did nearly 3,000 people attend an exhibition in Germany last week then?

Why are the top players going to exhibitions in Europe every other week?

Answer: because there's a huge market there not being properly tapped into"

As far as I can see that's true. There is a growing interest in the sport in countries like Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Rupublic , Russia etc.

Living in Vienna I can only estimate the interest for Austria and Germany. I'd like to explain some points about that:

1) Snooker followers in Germany/Austria are very entusiastic. They are in some way proud to be fans, because it is a marginalized sport in their countries.
It feels cool to be a snooker fan, because it is different.
Most people even have the perception that snooker players are global stars and are worshipped in Britain. So they are confirmed in watching snooker because they think it is a global sport, (which it is not), and think of the players like they would be stars just like Lampard, Gerrard, Ronaldo etc. (which they are not)
So, a good part of the fans in AUS/GER are attracted to snooker by a fake perception of its prominence. I won't say this is the main reason but it plays a part.

2) In AUS/GER you don't have the chances to see the top snooker players often, so if there's an exhibition or ProAm no wonder there are packed arenas.

3) I said snooker followers in GER/AUS are enthusiastic but they are few. Eurosport reaches 1 million viewers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a market of 100 million people. That's a great achievement for a marginalized sport and partly due to Rolf Kalb, the german commentator, but still it is not much, if you compare it to the number of club members in these countries. I didn't find exact figures but there are about 5000-10000 club players, again in a market of 100 000 000. That's not much.

So do not overestimate the state of snooker in mainland Europe. Nevertheless, it is a growing market, so it is really necessary to get a ranker somewhere into Europe. Germany would be a great place. The Tempodrom would be a great venue (for 2500).
But, there could not be found a sponsor who would be willing to back the tournament entirely. Thus, the WSA will have to invest.

4) I often ask myself if the current board is really willing and capable of expanding snooker.

The long term vision must be ranking tournaments in the UK and Ireland, Europe and China.
A UK tour, an European tour and an asian tour.
Something like 5 rankers in the UK, 3 in Europe, 5 in China and the Worlds at the end of the season.

That would mean that snooker has to be decentralised, but I feel there are some who are afraid of this.

P.S.: The WC has to be moved in order to have a global sport.

Anonymous said...

Dave asked; "So why did nearly 3,000 people attend an exhibition in Germany last week then?"

Because it's new and still has a novelty value.

Has anyone tried to stage an exhibition in the UK to house 3000?

Answer, no. Because snooker here is old hat and has nothing new to say. Ask Riley's ...

Anonymous said...

Ah, there you are Mr Hey You. I thought you'd forgotten to take your medication.

Dave H said...

An invitation event would be relatively cheap to stage in Germany.

Why is everyone obsessed with ranking tournaments?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn comment moderation on to deal with a certain poster.

kimball said...

A fact for Mr Anonymus.

Eurosport is free to-air in Germany,meaning that everybody can watch it.
35 million households approx.
1 million is (as I have been told)
highest wieving figures for Snooker
in eurosport/germany.
A bit different numbers than those you presented.
It is the 4th most wieved sport in
german e-sport, 3rd in Holland and
3rd in Denmark

Anonymous said...


do you think that rileys are in any way the heart of talent being brought in through the years....any more than a local club?

IMO not a high percentage of pros play at rileys compared to the relative numbers of private clubs. enlighten if you know otherwise

ta in advance

Anonymous said...

same question to anyone else....?

edinburghsnooker said...

The demise of Rileys was only a precalculated move to screw creditors, the tax man etc etc out of millions of pounds, The Rileys clubs had received new payin books, printed in the names of the new company a full week before the company had gone bust! This is Britian today, crooked directors making millions and causing grief for so many ordinary snooker players and staff employed there. Why dont trading standards and the police investigate??

Anonymous said...

edinburghsnooker said...
The demise of Rileys was only a precalculated move to screw creditors, the tax man etc etc out of millions of pounds

Your totally right Edinburgh, that is all this move was, i was employed by one of the clubs that shut down, Valliant Sports was setup purely for the intention of a croocked deal to wipe out million of debt

Anonymous said...

Yep I can vouch for the above, just juggled around one or two of the previous directors but still basically the same idiots in charge. Can't really call them idiots though because they saved their business in the long run, just a shame for the staff who lost their jobs in the clubs that were closed.

I give Rileys 18 months though because still things haven't picked up, if anything most the clubs I've been in are getting worse. They won't get away with this kind of deal again, that's why time is running out.