The WPBSA has tightened its disciplinary rules to cover a multitude of offences both big and small.

The new WPBSA players’ handbook includes specific fines for certain transgressions of the rules.

Conceding a frame before snookers are required, entering a tournament and then withdrawing from it without good reason and non attendance at tournament prize ceremonies, opening ceremonies, press conferences or other contracted events that are part and parcel of being a professional sportsmen will incur the following penalties:

First offence - £250 fine
Second offence - £500 fine
Third offence - £1,000 fine

After that players face suspension from tournaments.

However, the principle of ‘spent’ offences will apply for players with a poor disciplinary record who smarten up their acts. Therefore, if a reasonable amount of time has elapsed offences will be stricken from the record.

This is not draconian. Far from it, in fact. Other sports dole out harsher punishments than snooker.

Why shouldn’t players take part in official engagements for sponsors and those who put money into the tournaments they are competing in?

Why should they pull out of tournaments without notifying organisers?

Why should they give up in frames when there is still plenty on to win?

Players need to look at the bigger picture, that is the wider game and not just their own whims and moods.

However, there is no great discipline problem in general. And many of the problems that exist stem from the fact that the WPBSA has never really schooled its players into how to behave as a professional.

Yes there are written guidelines and rules but I’d like to see an induction day for all new professionals where they are sat down and have it explained to them exactly what being a snooker pro entails, what is expected of them and how they should conduct themselves.

Wise, experienced old heads such as Steve Davis and Ken Doherty would be perfect to lead such sessions.

In most cases, the flouting of the rules is done in genuine ignorance rather than through some malevolent desire for rebellion.

There was a general chat about this backstage at the Championship League this week where it became apparent that some players had just not thought through why the public would feel short-changed at them conceding early.

On this latter point, a little common sense is needed, though. There’s a world of difference between conceding with eight reds on and conceding while ten behind on the blue and leaving it over the pocket.

Punishment should apply for the former but not the latter, even though the strict etiquette of the game says that you should never concede when you are at the table, only after your opponent breaks down.

There are a couple of other general rules that have been clarified too.

Only the referee is allowed to clean the balls. Presumably there is an inference that players may try and polish the balls to make them react differently, although this raises the question of whether a player taking balls out of pockets at the end of a frame is classed as having ‘cleaned’ it.

Players also may not attempt to split prize money, something that has certainly happened before.

In a player’s head this makes sense. If the top prize is £100,000 and the runners-up prize £50,000 and they split it then they are each guaranteed £75,000.

It doesn’t mean they won’t still be trying but it is right that this is stamped out. If the public think players don’t care who wins and loses because they are getting the same money in any case then their confidence in snooker will decrease.

Ultimately, if you want to play professional snooker then you sign up to a certain code of conduct.

Nobody wants to see snooker players turned into automatons scared of doing anything that will land them in trouble but the sport is bigger than any of them and deserves to be treated with basic respect.


Betty Logan said...

I think it's a good thing that player attendance is going to be addressed, although I think fines should be based off a percentage of season earnings—£1000 is nothing to someone who makes half a million. If you enter an event you should turn up, it's basic professionalism. The rule on prize splitting is consistent with banning insurance betting, although again, is there much point in having a rule that can't be enforced? I suppose it forces discretion if you are going to do it so at least keeps it out of the public eye.

I don't like the idea of disciplinary action for conceding frames. If a player is on a roll and then ends up behind in a tactical frame he isn't likely to win then it makes sense to concede so as not to be frozen out of break-building for too long. If they are going to have the rule they should at least make it the ref's prerogative, so the circumstances in which the concession is made can be judged.

Anonymous said...

The players often attempt to compare snooker to golf and are bemused that their sport lags behind the outdoor game in profile, sponsorership and gravitas.
No doubt the sceptics who are possibly against these new stringent rules regarding conduct are unaware that golf has always had such rules in place.
Get over yourself boys.

Steve said...

Interesting about the players cleaning the balls as I was thinking about that just this week when I saw Mark Williams doing it during a Championship League match. I was watching the ref to see if he would say anything but he just ignored it and continued to collect the balls from the pockets.

Matt said...

I agree with the rules if someone wants to watch a tournament on TV they want to see the best players and they should do something the ref that is if someone is caught swearing or cleaning the balls. Conceding the frame when you can still the frame is almost a farce and the broadcasters don't want to see that and nor do the spectators because they've paid good money to watch a good snooker match and the last thing they want is someone conceding the frame just because they're bored or can't be bothered to play.

It would be amazing if Ronnie reached an 10th Masters Final to prove he has always preformed well in this tournament

Anonymous said...

"However, the principle of ‘spent’ offences will apply for players with a poor disciplinary record who smarten up their acts. Therefore, if a reasonable amount of time has elapsed offences will be stricken from the record."
How Long is Reasonable ?

you cant say a year is "REASONABLE" for Ronnie but for Fergal O'Brien 2 years is "REASONABLE".

that needs clarified otherwise the Goalposts could be moved depending on who the player is.

Anonymous said...

Just liked to say congratulations on Snooker scene reaching it's 40th birthday. Well done to Clive, Dave and all the team for an excellent read and also for asking the difficult questions to those that run the game in years gone by and now. Keep doing what you do best.

Anonymous said...

...Only the referee is allowed to clean the balls. Presumably there is an inference that players may try and polish the balls to make them react differently,...

not just an inference but a leading player caught and disciplined for doing just that.

TazMania said...

good say dave, wpbsa needs to coach young upcoming players in how to react with media and how to generally act in matches like the WRC. £1,000 for ronnie is too little even if he paid a £12,000 for the events he missed. My idea is:

Max fines under my regime

Top 1-16 £8,000 fine.
Top 17-32 £5,000
top 33-64 £3,000
Top 64-96 £1,000
Amueters £500

Anonymous said...

who was the player caught cleaning...?

Anonymous said...

at last, some stiffer rules that hopefully wont be ignored by the likes of rockets

Anonymous said...

Caught cleaning? Was is the problem? Getting the balls to react differently? Like sticking gum to them or what? Please elaborate because to me it seems like a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

Its the duty of every player to clean his balls. We have to think about the public perception of the hygien of our top players

Anonymous said...

so, nobody willing to name him?

Anonymous said...

probably lies then

Anonymous said...

Is the Code of Conduct just limited to players? Is there anything in there about the conduct of managers or agents?

Anonymous said...

who could you mean?