The newly formed Snooker Players Association has written to its members to suggest calling an Extraordinary General Meeting of the WPBSA asking whether the players have confidence in the current board.

This move comes after the SPA’s request for a meeting with the governing body was denied by the WPBSA.

The SPA then asked the four members of the WPBSA Players Forum to press their case but this proved unproductive.

The WPBSA appear to see the SPA as a threat but if they’d thought this through properly they would have agreed to the meeting and then said that “we’ve met but can’t agree on any common ground.”

This would at least have made it look as if they were trying to find a way of working together.

As it is, as so often before, a fight is looming between the various sides. Such battles have seriously damaged the sport’s health and reputation in the past.

The usual smear is that anyone challenging the way snooker is run is “trying to take over the game,” as if the game belongs to one set of individuals to start with.

However, players have had sundry chances to reject the current board. At the AGM last year only 23 of the 70 or so voting members actually cast a vote.

This does not suggest a huge level of dissatisfaction – or even interest – in how snooker is being governed.

Maybe they need a body like the SPA to mobilise action but an EGM such as this would only make sense if there was a specific plan in place were the board to be defeated.

Who would replace them? What would happen after that?

The SPA is designed to be a players’ union. This was the original purpose of the WPBSA itself but it outgrew this function when it also became the game’s principal promoter and its disciplinary body.

In a disciplinary case, an employee looks to their union for support. This is difficult to achieve when it is also the union prosecuting them.

The SPA say their membership includes Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins plus around half of the current 96-man main tour.

The WPBSA say they represent the players already and so there is no need for an independent body.

But surely if players felt there was no need for the SPA, dozens of them wouldn’t have joined it?

My advice to both sides is to get round a table and agree a way forward as soon as possible.

Sadly, all my experience of the snooker world tells me this is very unlikely to happen and that an all out fight will soon be upon us.


Anonymous said...

The WPBSA ALWAYS look on moves by outside organisations to promote the sport more professionally as a threat. This just underlines the lack of confidence, ability and belief they have in themselves. But the SPA is not an outside organisation - it is made up of the players as,I thought, so was WSA! If I was heading up the organisation controlling snooker at present and saw the crowds at the opening matches of The Grand Prix - I would be looking for all the help I could get.Even more, my moral compass would probably lead me to resign having failed to do anything for snooker for at least a couple of seasons except save a bit of money up for any impending court cases.

Anonymous said...

the crowds at the grand prix werent bad after the first sunday, and that sunday had a HUGE glasgow football match which would eliminate most sport fans into making a choice.

granted it wasnt great, but it wasnt the worst ive seen.

also, the officials moved swiftly to offer cheaper tickets to try to draw in crowds, so they did react productively

Anonymous said...

This is a disgrace and does nothing to promote our sport in a positive light. don't the players know the damage they do? I can't see any sponsors signing up now with the governing bodies bickering amongst themselves. RIP snooker.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

I also noticed a huge gripe about where the wbpsa are taking the game with regards tournaments and sponsorships.

With Higgins, O'Sullivan (which is a real coup!) and Steve Davis heading it up, they stand a real chance of having more than their voices heard in future.

I just don't know why they haven't got the backing of all the professional players? Bizarre to say the least. Especially if, in a few years time, a player may end up with an injury like Chris Small. Unlike Chris, this player may actually find some help and compensation as he leaves the game!

But, why on earth are the wpbsa making this so hard. It is a players union. The FA don't overule the players union in football and likewise in cricket. Why Snooker?

The sport is almost getting like Mugabe's Zimbabewe!

BTW, definitely Wenbo for Wembley. Unless upstaged at the last moment in Telford, by a qualifier winning the UK.

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the players missed out on a great chance to move the game on when they turned down the Altium deal to go with the plenty of nothing alternative. I still can't believe where the players brains went in (Turkeys voting for Christmas?) refusing that deal and even now when thet have the chance to vote, very few do at agm's.

Anonymous said...

In the words of the bowl of petunias in the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, 'oh no, not again'.

JohnMcBrideIRE said...

Could this see the start of the 'split'?

Anonymous said...

Very true words from both of you.

Undue haste in refusing a meeting - as a business man, I have never refused to listen to anybody regarding my business - but as Dave says, just as undue in calling a confidence vote as a knee-jerk.

This has been coming for a while (some may say its been coming since the last attempt to wrench power from certain autocratic individuals), and always results in negative animosity.

And the column inches that will - as it always does - go into Snooker Scene, will also not help the sport in the eyes of the public.

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, needs to look at themselves in the mirror, and ask themselves "Can the sport afford to wash any more dirty laundry in public".

Theres no such a thing as bad publicity...

Unless its all negative.

Think about it.

SupremeSnooker.com said...

When the SPA was set up, I said at the time that with experienced sports promoters such as Pat Mooney and Barry Hearn at the helm, it had the potential to evolve into far more than a trade union for the players.

Most of the players are smart enough to understand the scale of the current problems, but are not astute enough in the areas of politics and business to know how to go about solving them. By becoming part of the SPA, they are empowered to put these plans into action.

Mr Mooney came onto this forum to say that the purpose of the SPA was to be a voice for the players, but that they had to make money as this was the only way they could be successful. I took his point, but as far as I was concerned, if there were two men capable of taking snooker out of the current rot, these were the guys who could do it.

Both Mr Mooney and Mr Hearn have a proven track record in successfully promoting independent snooker events and I believe that these are now the two men who are best placed to rescue the game from the decades in the doldrums that will inevitably come if the current board remains in charge.

I advise the two men to prepare a plan of action for reviving the game, and make it clear at the EGM that they would prefer it to be implemented within the WPBSA structure.

However, if, at the EGM, it becomes clear that the current board are either too stubborn or inward-looking to acknowledge the scale of the problem, then in my view there is no option available to the SPA than to set up a full-scale breakaway. I would want this only to be used as a last resort, but snooker is rapidly running out of time and options.

Good luck to the SPA- I wish them well.


Betty Logan said...

So goal of the SPA isn't to become a union it is to become the new WSA...

They might have shot themselves in the foot because if the board survives the vote of no confidence then the SPA has played all its chips and the WSA can just ignore them.

The SPA asked for much more than a meeting, they were basically asking the WSA to surrender some control of the game to them. There are two reasons why that is inappropriate: 1) If the SPA is supposed to be a union for its members then it ceates a conflict of interest by taking over some areas of the game; 2) The SPA doesn't represent all the players so it would be negligent for the WSA to concede some areas of management to the SPA when it doesn't have a mandate from the players.

The WSA was correct to decline a meeting if that was the agenda. The appropriate course of action for the SPA would be to consult with its members and make a formal request to the WSA to make the changes they want to see. One such reasonable request would be the establishment of an independent disciplinary body. Another would be the formation of a council of promoters within the game to formally agree a calender to prevent fiascos like Bahrain.

This is disappointing action from the SPA because it just looks like they're staging a coup.

Anonymous said...

Betty Logan aka Rodney Walker???

SupremeSnooker.com said...

Betty Logan:

A few points:

Firstly, the SPA represents a sizeable chunk of the leading professionals, including the current World Champion and number one ranked player. The organisation is also headed by two men who have successfully staged independent promotions. Surely it is not too much to ask of the WPBSA to accept a request for a meeting and at least hear what they have to say?

Secondly, I really don’t think the WPBSA should be lecturing the SPA about there being a conflict of interests between being a union and taking over the running of the game.

Thirdly, you say that the SPA doesn’t represent all the players. This is correct, but neither does the WPBSA satisfactorily represent all the players, otherwise so many of them wouldn’t have felt the need to set up the SPA.

The fact that the WPBSA turned down the request from the SPA for a mere meeting made today’s turn of events inevitable.

If, and this is a BIG if, the board survives the vote of no confidence, the WPBSA would still be VERY unwise to ignore the SPA, as there would be nothing to stop them organising a breakaway tour regardless.

As I said, I would prefer this to be resolved within the WPBSA structure, but their actions have made an unpleasant conflict inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Really easy to promote events when you don't pay the players what you are supposed to pay them.

But how stupid are the players?

They own the WPBSA, and vote on the Board of the WPBSA. And now they've set up a union - to fight themselves?

And nice to see the world champion at the forefront of the latest bickering.

This is the same player who was so anti-Altium/TSN/110 Sport a few years ago?

Oh well, I suppose the penny had to drop sooner or later. Pity that penny is only worth a quarter of what it's value was ten years ago whe there was some real money in the game

Betty Logan said...

I've read the letter that the SPA sent and it was hostile and demanding in its tone. It was pretty obvious that the WSA wouldn't agree to an agenda for such a meeting. If the SPA was serious about reforming the governing structure of the game then maybe they should make a few suggestions that don't involve the WSA conceding power and control to them. It would make them a slightly more credible union.

I don't think the players who joined the SPA realised they were backing a coup, they just thought that they would have a bit more influence over the direction of the game and the structure of their organisation.

Monique said...

Indeed SupremeSnooker, totally agree. And by refusing that meeting WPBSA has left SPA with no other choice than try to force things by going public. This will maybe not be good for the game but I'm not so sure. If I was a sponsor considering snooker, I would rather prefer to see the players and some main promoters at least TRY something instead of just hiding their heads in the sand in denial of the real state of the sport.

Anonymous said...

imho mr mooney is not anywhere near in the same league as mr hearn

no disrespect to him, but id like to see the profit/loss figures for events hes had a hand in and compare to hearns over the years...

the WS of snooker is good, but its not close to being like hearns events and so i would not catagorise PM in the same breath regarding this, no matter their involvement in snooker or the sPA

Anonymous said...

I can only speak from experience and as a snooker fan of 30 years I know that I have contacted world snooker on 5 occassions - one phone call where they could not answer a basic question about dates. 3 emails with simple not controversial questions that were not replied to and many years ago a pleasant letter from Mark Wildman welcoming my suggestions and comments. What a shame that over the years the governing body seems to have little interest in having contact with long term fans and treat people who have no links with promoters, players or the media, but are simply people who enjoy watching a fascinating game, with suspicion and disdain.

Anonymous said...

the usual practice would be to do some reasearch into Mr Mooney and find out if he is the right person to take control of the players rites, this should be done to protect the members of wpbsa. it seems that there is no evidence of membership only claims that a membership exists, it is unhelpful for people to go off half cocked and pass comment on issues when they do not no the full story.