Jason Ferguson, the new WPBSA chairman, is calling for the age limit at which players can turn professional to be lowered.

As it stands right now, players can’t turn pro until they are 16.

In a letter to the WPBSA membership, Ferguson cites the example of Luca Brecel, who won the European amateur title at the age of 15 earlier this year.

Ferguson wrote: “Luca achieved a dream by winning the European Championship and qualified for the main tour, only to be told he could not compete as under our rules and constitution he was too young. Whilst there are issues to deal with like child welfare and education, having taken the appropriate advice, these can be worked out. As a former player, I feel that this is a totally unacceptable situation and therefore we will be looking for you to support constitutional change.”

Brecel can play in this season’s PTC events but will have to wait until next year to turn professional.

I was always under the impression that the age limit existed in part because of tobacco sponsorship, which has of course now ceased, although gaming companies also operate under strict rules regarding age.

There seems no logical reason why a 15 year-old can’t play on the tour, just as they are able to compete in other sports.

Many parents would doubtless say they should remain at school and not be distracted by dreams of green baize glory.

Another counter argument is that they won’t be ready, that they need more time on the junior and amateur circuits.

Possibly. But there’s a lot to be said for sink or swim. The fact is, any player will find it tough in their first reason whether they are 15 or 21. This is because it is tough. Really tough.

There have been a few exceptions over the years. Shaun Murphy played in a couple of qualifiers when he was 15 because the season started a fortnight before he turned 16.

This was not, as many people claim, because his father, Tony, was a WPBSA board member at the time. He didn’t join the board until a couple of years later.

It was, in fact, a sensible solution rather than making Shaun wait another year. However, two years ago Michael White, in almost identical circumstances, was barred from playing in two ranking event qualifiers because he was still 15.

The WPBSA administration of the time doggedly insisted no such exemption had ever been given to Murphy or anyone else – despite the evidence in Snooker Scene and elsewhere that it had happened.

Ding Junhui competed in the 2002 China Open as a 14 year-old wild card but was, of course, still an amateur at the time.

It’s impossible to say when a player is truly ‘ready’ to turn professional. You only find out by actually doing it.

If a player like Brecel has qualified for the main tour through a recognised route then he should have his chance.

Ferguson’s idea is therefore worthy of support, although as he says it will require deft implementation to take into account issues around the welfare of the child and their education.


jamie brannon said...

I don't see why not, but the law states any under-16 can't be in full-time work. So, would this not be consituted as full-time work.

How far do you lower the limit?
What happens if a 12 or lower became eligible to play?

John McBride said...

I'm wondering here what's the real reason behind this request? If we didn't have Luca Brecel now, would Jason Ferguson have had the foresight to raise this as an issue? Something tells me No, he wouldn't.

While I want the game to flourish in its entirety, using people as pawns to help do this is not the right way to go about it.

Anonymous said...

nonsense JOHN

we cant predict the future

Jason is reacting to a situation that arose recently.

I would rather they act on things current and happening than try to predict the future in other parts of the game.

damned if you do and damned if you dont by john mc

Executor said...

I think this Michael White situation two (wasn't it three?) years ago was fairly unfair.

Still, I do not think that Ferguson raised this issue just because of Brecel. Yes he is extremely talented but I think there are some guys in UK that are (or could be) even better.

Anonymous said...

It's not a full-time job. Practice time is voluntary and unpaid.

I fully support letting young talent have their chance. If their skills enable them to survive on the main tour then they should definitely live out that dream.

Anonymous said...

Well if they get younger perhaps we may see fledgling pro`s adopting Mr Hey You`s "fine art method",and,the adulation and rewards that will come with using such a technique!!

Anonymous said...

I think that 16 is a good enough age but exemptions to the rule should be made e.g in Brecel's case he won the European amateur title, which would have been good enough to turn him pro automatically at 16. If Hearn really wanted to he could have handed him a wildcard. (And I don't get why Shaun Murphy can play as a 15 year old but Michael White cannot.)

kildare cueman said...

Of course Brecel should be allowed play. He earned his place on merit and if there are legal implications about minors in full time employment, then WS could introduce a "probationary" or "associate" professional where under 16s receive coaching and maybe complete a course in the academy.

Part of this course would entail playing in the qualifiers and would technically change the players status from professional to student.

John McBride- all changes come about as a result of discovering anomalies.

The inelligibility of one of the worlds finest amateurs to turn pro must surely be an anomaly worth changing, particularly when he comes from a country where snooker is popular and is a potential growth area.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Barry Hearn the WPBSA chairman? Didn't he just win a recent vote to hold the position or am I missing something?

Dave H said...

Hearn is the chairman of World Snooker Ltd - the commercial body

The WPBSA is now primarily rules and regulatory

CHRISK5 said...

Gymnastics anyone ?!

If they're good enough,they should
be able to turn pro at 13 or 14.

Anonymous said...

think its a good idea because there are a load of players in China that are already playing at a good level as young as 10 years old.China is the future for snooker so this needs to be done.If your good enough your never to young to get match experience.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Mr X @ 3:59 pm Hello Dave.
Thanks mister for the kind words. I’m really curious Sir if you are just kind and supportive of the “Fine Art Method” or have acquired a DVD disc as there are several been banded about including a few unlawfully sold.
The “Fine Art” puts meaningful detail into playing every shot as opposed to the old “Try-Try- Again”. The primitive learning method of “Trial and Error” is used only to perfect and intertwine a shot with poise timing and finesse.

The game is full of wonderful young players that really can’t ever hope to play entertaining snooker but are already “Habit perfect” to century break standard.

The “Fine Art” is similar to the beautiful cue action of a 19-80s Jimmy White. Though watched by millions of viewers and coaches the action was never understood and copied. Mr Hey You

CHRISK5 said...

Steffi Graf & the Williams sisters
turned pro at 13 or 14.

Snooker should follow suit,
the policy is a winner.

In any event - at least the parents,coach,manager,promoter,
entourage & hangers-on,can get a
return on their 'investment' ASAP.

Oh,and the youngster can fulfill
his or her dreams too !

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

It is a difficult one this. I would make sure they had finished there schooling first before letting them go on the baize.

First rule would be to get an education to fall back on. 16 would be fine. Unless the kid was a natural talent like a o'Sullivan and Hendry then i wouldn't be too fussed knowing that they will do well in the sport.

I only know of 3 snooker players on the circuit who completed more than there gcse's. That is qualified accountant Patrick Wallace, Grammar-schooled Mark Joyce and Steve Davis who sat A levels. Any more?

I think you can certainly have a longer paid sporting career in snooker, where tennis you can't. But obviously the money is there, so they start young. 20 yrs old is almost retirement in tennis these days. Especially for the girls.

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

i think the fine fart is feck all like jimmys cueing then or now

more bollux !

Betty Logan said...

Murphy was allowed to work full-time because he had legally left school - sometimes this happens when someone turns 16 between May and August. If Murphy had been born in September this wouldn't have been legally possible. It seemed World Snooker accommodated Murphy because they were able to legally. If you haven't left school I think you're only allowed to work two hours a day or something so I don't see how someone like Brecel can be legally accommodated.

Dave H said...

Brecel doesn't go to school - he's tutored at home

Betty Logan said...

I suspect employment law probably still applies regardless of how he's actually educated though. The school leaving date is basically the cut-off point at which you know longer need to fulfil the legal educational requirements, and the point at which work restrictions no longer apply. I'm pretty sure it's something like 2 hours a day and 4 hours on Saturdays and Sundays, which wouldn't be enough for some matches.

There may be a loophole, such that if he doesn't earn prize money then he's not undertaking paid work. I'm not an expert on this, but I think it's a bit more complicated than World Snooker just altering its rules. In Brecel's case he could be further subject to Belgium's laws too.

CHRISK5 said...

Looking ahead - I think there should be 2 or 3 main tour places
on offer,each season for the
Under 16 category.

At least then - the very young newcomers are 'in it together',
camararderie on the tour &
competitiveness in that age group.

It's a radical & progressive idea.

Anonymous said...

As they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Anonymous said...

chrisk5, self praise is no praise and you thinking a rubbish idea is radical and progressive is typical of your arrogance and naivety.
The place for a 15 year old is in school. By creating tour places for kids you are encouraging them to give up their education to pursue what in most cases, will be pipe dreams.
If someone with exceptional talent, like Brecel can be fast tracked, then fine,but it should not become the norm.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Jimmy White had been made to stay on at school instead of pursuing a snooker career

What would he be doing now?

Anonymous said...

So they stay on at school and they do their GCSEs and they do their A levels and then they go to university and get a degree and then...they join all the others
down the jobcentre

If you have a dream, follow it at whatever age

You'll regret it for the rest of your life if you don't

Don't listen to to supposed 'wiser' old heads

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method -13/8/10
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Mr Ferguson
You are so right Jason to support all age membership with your past experience of club exhibitions in the mid eighties.
You were a fair wee player Jason and beat our first five “Ton up” players but you didn’t get a kick of the ball against CT a thirteen year old “Snooker Beginner”.

You may remember it Jason in a Yorkshire club we done you and your party proud as we offered lovely hot sausage rolls as well as the “standard sannies”. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

Absolute nonsense from 6.53. I,d bet at odds of 1-100 that there are more unemployed former pros than university graduates.

You can still play as an amateur while studying and turn pro afterwards. As for following your dream, you are watching too many American movies. A good degree virtually guarantees well paid employment.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method 13/8/10
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Dave
Thanks for the posts lad you have been very brave bucking the System. The game Dave is two maybe three years behind its “Unpublished Ability” including a detailed snooker method to offer schools as a curriculum to offer “O” and “A” level (Sports) subjects.

Jason Ferguson our new Chairman may be the person to drive the game forward as Television entertainment. It depends of course Dave if the establishment allows the lad the free thinking policy of “Catch them Young”.

I would like to write more Dave but there are so many people that may not prefer too much progress without guarantees of some kind. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

You arrogant old man. 9.25 .Please go away.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method14/8/10
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Mr X @ 8:50 pm Hello Dave
You are 100% right Sir on the importance of education even for the “Not so Bright” youngsters.

A University Degree whether a “one/one or the more attainable 2/2 will out live as an accomplishment more than winning a snooker tournament.
The exception to this is (maybe) for some Football Mad youngsters that become instant millionaires with there first signatures.
Fulfilling a dream is easy to young footballers. Being one more success of thousands; whereas fulfilling a snooker dream of being a champion or a well paid snooker professional is a 100/1 shot with Betfred in most tournaments.

Pro Snooker needs a self contributory system to survive. Something like taking in each others washing or demanding an annual fee for people living off “The Noble Game”. Mr Hey You.

Anonymous said...

reading all your comments maybe some of you can help me out my six year old has played snooker since the age of 3 he can beat all older brothers freinds . he seems to make the impossible possible on the snooker table.so what i need to know is how do you get a child into it his dream would be to play against kids his own age group to see how good he really is...thanks